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Saddam Captured

Aired December 14, 2003 - 21:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This afternoon, I have a message for the Iraqi people: You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again.


LARRY KING, HOST: Saddam Hussein captured alive. U.S. troops caught him in a raid last night, hiding in a camouflaged hole in the ground near a farmhouse outside his Iraqi home town of Tikrit. Saddam, bearded, haggard, described as disoriented, had a pistol on him. Was captured without a single shot being fired.

Here with the latest from Tikrit, Nic Robertson. Joining us from Baghdad, CNN's Jane Arraf. In London, CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. From Paris, the Iraqi foreign minister. From Sydney, Australia, the prime minister, John Howard. And a lot more, all next, on LARRY KING LIVE.

Famous American newsman years ago during World War II, used to come on often and say, there's good news tonight. That could well apply on this Sunday evening.

As we begin with Nic Robertson in Tikrit, how did you hear about it, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, we got rumors through various sources, late last night that something was happening. I heard from somebody on a base not far from here, who said you've got come up north and see me pretty soon. Something big is about to happen. Our correspondent here in Tikrit, Alphonso Van Marsh, heard a similar thing. We began to put the rumors together, and by mid-morning, this morning, it was beginning to be clear that perhaps it really was Saddam Hussein, and that's exactly what we found out a few hours later.

KING: And Jane Arraf, you're in Baghdad. How did you come across it?

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, it started with that old Baghdad rumor mill, and then the rumor grew and grew, and eventually it really became clear that perhaps it really was Saddam. Still hard to believe, Larry, but it's real.

KING: Early reaction, Nic in Tikrit, is what? ROBERTSON: Negative, Larry. The reaction elsewhere in Iraq has seemed to have been very positive. In Tikrit, the loyalty that Saddam Hussein showed to the people here, giving them good education, above average health care services, better electricity supplies than the other people in Iraq seems to be being repaid now. The people we've talked to said, look, Saddam Hussein may be just a man, but he was our president, some presidents come and go, but the people we've talked to said we'd rather have him than the current government that's in place in Iraq at this time.

Somebody else also said, look, Saddam, it doesn't matter that Saddam Hussein is gone. The anti-coalition forces here are not fighting for Saddam Hussein, this person said they're fighting for Iraq, to free Iraq, so there is a view from here, still people essentially saying that the anti-coalition attacks will continue, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein is captured -- Larry.

KING: Jane, is that expected in Baghdad too, in the short term to look for more uprisings?

ARRAF: Absolutely. In fact, one of the generals here in charge of the 1st Infantry Division in charge of Baghdad was just saying this evening that because Saddam was not really believed to be responsible for orchestrating these attacks, it does not mean the attacks are going to stop. And in fact, as the country progresses to handing over power to the Iraqis from the U.S., the attacks are likely to increase. It's sort of common wisdom here, Larry.

KING: Are you surprised, Nic, that he gave up so amiably?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think I'm surprised, but I don't think I'm as surprised as a lot of Iraqis were. Saddam Hussein through his rule in Iraq had given the impression, particularly as the war seemed to be imminent, that he would fight to the last. Most Iraqis believed that perhaps he would go down in a blaze of gunfire, like his two sons, Uday and Qusay, in a major shootout, when U.S. forces attempted to capture them in July. A lot of people here suspecting that he would if not shoot his way out of it than shoot himself rather than face capture.

But no, I am not surprised. There is a lot that we've learned about Saddam Hussein over the last few months that indicate that while this man had a very powerful regime, perhaps he was not bold enough to take such a dramatic action as kill himself rather than be captured, Larry.

KING: Jane, Donald Rumsfeld said on "60 Minutes" tonight that he is not being cooperative. What do you hear?

ARRAF: Well, it would be hard to imagine a cooperative Saddam Hussein, although the fact that he was so chatty has really surprised people. In fact, members of the Governing Council got their own little session with him, half an hour, essentially to prove that he was who he said he was. And he seemed defiant and unrepentant and unremorseful, in their words. So it's not real surprise that he's not going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) weapons of mass destruction or any of those other big items.

KING: Nic, is someone in line for a reward here?

ROBERTSON: You know, it doesn't seem to be the case, Larry. The way they came to capture Saddam, the coalition forces here have been closing in on close tribal allies, close family allies. They closed in, they tell us that in the last 10 days, they've taken five or 10 of these key people into captivity, and it was one of those people that essentially ratted on Saddam Hussein in the end, led to the capture of him within 24 hours of giving that information. So it doesn't seem that this information was given freely, Larry, so it would seem really unlikely that coalition is about to hand out such a large amount of money for somebody they had basically detained and then lean on to find out where he was -- Larry.

KING: Jane, what's the -- what's the military significance of all of this? He is just one man, when you come to think of it.

ARRAF: He is one man, but a huge symbol, obviously. And probably the military significance is essentially that, but he has served as an inspiration, as hope held out by some of these people that they do have a chance. Because they certainly don't have a chance in the new Iraq, but militarily, over and over we hear that he was not thought to be directing attacks, that that was the job of perhaps mid-level former fighters of his, and now it's unleashed a whole series of things. Foreign fighters, common criminals, all of them seemingly working together, but not Saddam Hussein, apparently.

KING: Nic Robertson and Jane Arraf will be joining us later on the program. We're not going to spend a couple of minutes with Christiane Amanpour in London, CNN's chief international correspondent. How are things in Blair ville tonight? He must be feeling pretty good.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can imagine, just like in Bush ville, if you like, it's a massive, massive shot in the arm, for both the prime minister of Britain and the president of the United States, who have been going through a lot of angst over the last eight months, with the violence, with the guerrilla campaign, the gathering sort of insurgency. And so this has come at an incredibly fortunate time for them.

And certainly, reaction from around the world. I know you have the Australian prime minister on, and countries that are aligned with the United States have been very, very supportive, as you can imagine, regarding today's developments. And countries that even did not support the war, Germany and France, have also contacted the United States, sent congratulations and hope that this would further solidify the process of democratization and stabilization.

But of course, really, the underlying theme is the continued concern and worry about who exactly does run this insurgency, whether it is a one-headed monster or a multi-headed monster, and how this insurgency is going to be put down, beyond this amazingly euphoric and important moment. What will that translate as in terms of practical terms? And also, of course, the reconstruction. The international community is slow and behind on reconstruction. How will this provide a shot in the arm for that very necessary and vital process?

KING: And Christiane, what is the effect on James Baker, on the eve of his arrival, to come in and bring all these people together?

AMANPOUR: Well, that's interesting. I mean, clearly it's better for him to come in tomorrow, after this victory, than it would have been to come in yesterday, but the thing is, what's interesting is he's being sent to try to get countries to forgive their debts to Iraq, but many of these countries have just been frozen out by the United States in billions and billions of dollars of reconstruction and other kinds of contracts for Iraq. So it's going to be -- it's hard to tell how that is going to work, and many analysts and pundits and even some of these governments who are being frozen out are saying, hey, look, the United States cannot afford to not have as many allies and as many countries and companies helping it as possible.

So I think there is a little bit of a disconnect there. I guess we're going to see how the Baker trip works out.

KING: Thank you, Christiane. Lots more to come on this Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE, on this historic day. Back with more after this. Don't go away.


BUSH: Yesterday, December the 13th, at around 8:30 p.m. Baghdad time, United States military forces captured Saddam Hussein alive.

He was found near a farmhouse outside the city of Tikrit, in a swift raid conducted without casualties. And now the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions.



KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Our panel will reassemble and we'll add some folks to it at well. But first, let's check in with H.R. prince, Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. He's chairman of the kingdom holden (ph) company of Saudi Arabia. He's the nephew of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

Your highness, Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador said that Saddam Hussein is a menace to the Arab world and his capture brings to an end an infamous chapter of history for Iraq and the region. Would you agree with that, you highness.

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL, SAUDI ARABIA: Obviously, I do agree 100 percent with what Prince Bandar has said. And Arab world has received the news of the capture of Saddam Hussein with happiness, jubilation and big, big relief.

KING: There are some in the Arab world complaining -- and we're showing pictures of it now, that by humiliating him, going through his hair, looking in his mouth, is an indication of American arrogance. Do you see anything like that? BIN TALAL: No I don't. I don't see it anything of American arrogance at all. What I see right now, is that the Americans are treating him pretty well. If you compare this to the way he treated his people, whereby thousands, if not tens of thousands of people that were murdered by him.

KING: We will never forget the al Qaeda attacks in your country in November, 17 people killed, 100 wounded on a housing compound as well. Do you expect any more of this in view of the occurrence today?

BIN TALAL: Well, obviously, our expectation is for these terrorist attacks to diminish. And we're doing everything we can in Saudi Arabia to stop all these terrorist acts. And the indications are that we are moving on the right direction.

KING: What would your guess be about the eventual trial of Saddam Hussein, the frame work. Iraq will try him, we presume. Any dangers you foresee?

BIN TALAL: Not at all, because the Arab world is almost unanimous right now, the street (ph) in the Arab world is unanimous that Saddam Hussein was a criminal. And the fact that the Iraqi people went down the streets in happiness, jubilation, and with relief, this is a very big indication that he was not loved by his people at all.

And at the end of the day, Iraqis have to judge him and put him on trial. And I believe he will get a fair trial and eventually he will -- the Iraqi people have to give their final say on their ex- ruler.

KING: What are your expectations for democracy, eventually, in that country.

BIN TALAL: Well, obviously, from what you hear from President Bush is that he would like to create a role model out of Iraq in our region. And we hope -- we hope good luck for him.

KING: Thank you very much, your highness. Always great talking with you.

BIN TALAL: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudia Arabia.

Joining us now, staying with us in Tikrit, Iraq is Nic Robertson, the CNN senior international correspondent. In Baghdad is Jane Arraf, the CNN Baghdad bureau chief. In Washington is Judith Miller, the Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent for "The New York Times." She writes about national security and wrote the hit best-seller "Germs: Biological Weapons In America's Secret War." That's now available in paperback.

Also in Washington is Robin Wright, long time with "L.A Times." Robin is now "Washington Post" diplomatic correspondent, author of "Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam." She's reported on the Saddam Hussein regime for more than 2 decades.

And in D.C. is Colin Soloway. Journalist who spent about 7 months of the past year in Iraq. Former contributing editor for "Newsweek."

We've heard from Nic and Jane. Judith what was your immediate reaction to this?

JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, when I was awakened by friends in Iraq, I was tired, but I think as happy as the soldiers were who told me about it. I think, above all, this is a great day for the people of Iraq and a great day for the men and women in uniform overseas who have endured very difficult conditions to make such a day possible.

KING: Colin, were you surprised -- I'm sorry, I'll go back to you.

MILLER: And another thing is that it really kills the legend of Saddam. I mean, this terrible legend was growing up among the Arab people that he was invincible and this is absolutely going to demolish that legend.

KING: Colin?


KING: Yes.

SOLOWAY: No, not particularly. I'd spend a good bit of time with 4th Infantry Division up in Tikrit a few months ago, and they seemed pretty confident that they were circling in on Saddam, slowly anyway. Perhaps a little more slowly then they expected. But most people -- most Americans anyway expected it was only a matter of time before they actually got him.

I think what was surprising was actually just the nature of the operation in which they got him. In which they found him with just a couple of guys in a pretty isolated area.

KING: Robin Wright only has a few moments with us, so we're going to spend a couple moments with her. Then we'll hear from the foreign minister and back with our panel later.

Robin, first, were you surprised.?

ROBIN WRIGHT, "WASHINGTON POST": Surprised only in the pathetic way he was discovered. He did not, like his sons, fire against the Americans, did not try to defend himself. He basically allowed them to take him and that was it.

I think one of the things that we're going to have to watch for in the weeks ahead is, just how this plays out inside Iraq. Even though he is recognized throughout the Arab world as having been a ruthless leader, there are important sectors of Iraqi society who will feel vulnerable because of his capture, maybe feel threatened by the change in the internal balance of power. And this could play out in significant ways. It could continue to threaten the United States.

KING: Do you have fears, Robin then, that violence could increase?

WRIGHT: Oh, I think there's a general consensus that we could see a spike in the violence over the next few weeks. I think there's long term belief that this will eventually lead to the United States to be able to diminish the number of attacks, that's already begun to happen.

A lot will depend, Larry, on the really the future. Saddam Hussein's capture represents the closure of a chapter of Iraq's past. The issue that really faces the United States, is the more troublesome in some ways, the more complicated, is the political future, and trying to put in power, a government that is accepted and embraced by the vast majority of the Iraqi people, the brings a certain level of civility, that prevents any kind of ethnic tension among the Shias, the Kurds and the Sunni Muslim.

KING: Good or bad, Robin, that he's alive, that there will be a trial?

WRIGHT: I think it's terribly important in a way. I think this will give Iraqis a chance to bring closure, to feel that they achieved a certain sense of justice. And I think it's also important for the broader Bush administration goal of creating, or fostering democracy in the Arab world.

This will send a very strong message to a lot of Arab leaders, a lot of autocratic rulers that they will be held to account unless they open up and deal with the realities of the 21st Century.

KING: Good seeing you again Robin. Look forward to it again soon.

WRIGHT: Thanks.

KING: Robin Wright, now with the "Washington Post."

Nic Robertson, Jane Arraf, Judith Miller and Colin Soloway all will be joining us, returning later in the program. We'll take a break, and when we come back, the foreign minister of Iraq will talk to us from Paris. Don't go away.


MAJ. GEN. RAYMOND ODIERNO, U.S. ARMY: I think the pressure has become so tight on him, he knew he couldn't travel in large entourages, so he didn't really have any men with him. It was him and just a couple of other people with him, so he didn't really have much of a security force. And whenever you go in with overwhelming force, he knew -- and he was in a bottom of a hole -- so there is no way you can fight back, so he was just caught like a rat.



KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE on this special Sunday night edition, the foreign minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari. He comes to us from Paris.

Mr. Foreign Minister, how did you learn of the capture?

HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I was traveling from Riyadh, from Saudi Arabia to Paris. We have a busy schedule here in France. Tomorrow to meet the French president, Mr. Chirac, and the foreign minister, with a delegation from the Governing Council.

And we learned actually through the CNN, the best intelligence source of information. And we double-checked through our colleagues in Baghdad, from the Governing Council. We made some phone calls to our people in the north, and they all confirmed that this is a true story and it's not a fictitious story.

KING: Were you very surprised?

ZEBARI: Not really. Larry, to tell you the truth, last night, I was speaking with a group of Kuwaiti generals, but it was a hunch, it was not based on any solid evidence. They asked me, what is the best news you can tell us, to report? I said, really, I believe that Saddam capture is going to be very, very soon. I mean, I was saying that...

KING: Really?

ZEBARI: ... convinced that he's going to be captured, because his days are numbered. You know, the net was closing on him, and that would have been the best news for the Iraqi people and the Kuwaiti people.

KING: Will he be tried in Iraq?

ZEBARI: We hope, Larry, that really, Saddam should stand trial in Iraq, to answer for the crimes he has committed against the Iraqi people, the genocide, the war crimes, the war against humanity, and the mass graves, the use of chemical weapons in Halabja. All this stands as really the hallmark of Saddam's reign of terror.

KING: Iraq has suspended the death penalty. If he were convicted, would you reinstate it?

ZEBARI: In fact, this is one of the legal issues that the Governing Council is discussing with the CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority, after setting up the court to try or prosecute a member of Saddam's regime on this crime, that the Iraqi panel called before was really had many clauses for that penalty. And this is a controversial issue that under the circumstances that this may continue until we have a sovereign government, until we have elections to revise and review. And even you in the United States have a death penalty on certain crimes.

So, still it has not been settled, but there is an understanding that the Iraqis should take charge of trying Saddam.

KING: Mr. Foreign Minister, do you expect the violence to decrease now that he has been captured?

ZEBARI: I have -- I have no doubt that Saddam's capture will bring down the number of attacks by 90 percent, and it will demoralize his supporters, the loyalists, those criminals, those torturers who are attacking coalitions, who are attacking Iraqi civilians and targets. But we may see also in the short term, an upsurge of these attacks, as a reaction to Saddam's capture, as a sign of revenge, or also as a sign of frustration.

But I believe that they have lost, and his supporters will think again that their inspiration is in the custody of the coalition, and therefore, they have no hope, they have no future. And even his capture will affect the activity, the terrorist attacks of those foreign fighters, the jihadists who are coming together, teaming up to target the coalition forces and Iraqi civilians and target, because the second group has been thriving, has been living on the environment created by Saddam's remnants and loyalists.

KING: Yeah, that makes sense. Thank you so much, Mr. Foreign Minister. We'll be talking to you frequently in the months ahead.

ZEBARI: You're welcome.

KING: That was the foreign minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, coming to us from Paris, a happy man tonight.

We'll be right back with more of LARRY KING LIVE for this Sunday night special edition right after this.


SANCHEZ: It was a cooperative posture that he was presenting to us, a tired -- he was a tired man, and also I think a man resigned to his fate.



KING: Still to come, our panel will reassemble later. We'll also meet the prime minister of Australia. Right now we welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Rend al-Rahim in Washington. She is the Iraqi representative and head of the Iraqi mission in the United States.

In Miami is Senator Bob Graham, former candidate for his parties presidential nomination and former chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

In New York is Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut who visited Iraq earlier this month, member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security.

And in Sante Fe, New Mexico is Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico, the governor of that state, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Miss Rahim, what was your first reaction to all of this?

REND AL-RAHIM, HEAD OF IRAQI MISSION IN U.S.: Joy and excessive happiness and relief in knowing that this terrible ghost, that we've been living with, of Saddam Hussein, is now finally put to rest. The haunted house that was Iraq is now truly free and people are able to move forward.

Because I think that, even though, people intellectually knew that the regime was gone, Saddam couldn't possible come back, emotionally and psychologically they were still fettered by the feeling that he was still there. There was still an obstacle to planning their future, to feeling confident in the future.

So I feel that there's a certain sense of purgation or catharsis that has taken place.

KING: Senator Graham, you voted against the resolution to authorize use of force in Iraq. Late polls taken today, 62 percent of Americans support the Iraq action, that's up 3 percent, 33 percent against, that's down 6 percent. What's your reaction to today's events?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM, (D) FLORIDA: Very, very happy at the events. We've eliminated a major force of disruption in Iraq. It will give us much greater hope that we'll be able to move towards the securing of Iraq and a democratic society and, very important, to be able to bring home the American men and women who have been representing us with such valor in Iraq.

KING: But you have not changed your feelings regarding the resolution.

GRAHAM: No, I thought the question of resolution was basically one of judgment. The question was, do you -- what do you believe the standard of deciding whether to vote on that authorization should be. In my judgment it was, which of the many evils in the Middle East and Central Asia has the greatest capability of killing Americans.

And once you answer that question, which was, Saddam Hussein, as bad as he was, as evil as he was, was not the greatest threat to kill Americans. That person was Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. We should have stayed on that until we had completed the war on terror.

KING: Chris Shays, what was your reaction today?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, (R) CONNECTICUT: Oh I was thrilled. I was particularly thrilled for the Iraq people. Larry, this isn't the American Revolution, this is the Iraqi Revolution. And they needed to see Saddam.

And what's stunning is that he didn't fight back. I mean, he asked others to give up their lives, he kept his gun in his holster. And he surrendered neatly. And I think that is a very telling statement. KING: Governor Richardson, you met with Mr. Hussein back in 1995. What was your reaction today? And what did you make of how readily he gave up.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) NEW MEXICO: Well, Saddam Hussein, first of all, is a survivor. I think in his mind he knew that he wanted to survive, that he has something to deal with, that he has something to offer, and that is information, information on weapons of mass destruction, information on American P.O.W's possibly, information on links to al Qaeda. He has a lot of cards, and I think he realized that he doesn't want to be a nonfactor.

That's how I always saw him when we got the 2 Americans out. He's very pragmatic. But I think at the same time, this is a great day for the American military. President Bush deserves credit. This is a day where we talk how we move forward.

And I think the way you move forward, Larry, it's a major opportunity for the administration to internationalize the effort, to bring NATO, to bring the United Nations, to bring other allies in. Both in discussions about a war crimes trial for Saddam Hussein, but also reconstruction of Iraq, elections so that our troops can start coming home, and the burden of this war is shared by others. But mainly it's a day that this capture will trigger possibly, if we play it right, a lot of good developments for us.

KING: Miss. Rahim, is he a prisoner of Iraq?

AL-RAHIM: He's a prisoner of the Iraqi people. And I must say here he was captured alive. It is extremely important for Iraqis to see their tormentor and the murderer put on trial in a way that establishes in Iraq, the rule of law. This is really where Iraq, the new Iraq can proclaim the rule of law, can try Saddam Hussein publicly, but with due process, with a right of defense and a right of appeal.

There are messages there to the Iraqi people. First of all, they will see justice done, but they will also see justice done in a country that now falls under the rule of law, a country of laws. And I think both messages are very important for Iraqis to see.

KING: Senator Graham, what's the effect on the campaign of the United States?

GRAHAM: Well, for a period of time, it's going to more or less freeze the campaign as extend out pride and hope to the soldiers, the intelligence agents and to President Bush, who all deserve credit for what has happened. Thereafter, I think that it will depend on what occurs on the ground in Iraq.

We've got 2 basic groups of thugs who have been carrying out attacks against U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. One, are those that are close to Saddam Hussein, the Ba'athists. The others are the terrorists who have come into Iraq since the end of the war.

I think the latter group is going to be the most difficult, because they never liked Saddam Hussein, therefore, they would not see his capture as a reason to desist from further violent acts.

KING: Congressman Shays, do you expect in the short term, more violence?

SHAYS: Oh, I expect in the short term probably more violence. But this is such a thrilling development and I think that people are going to recognize that the United States is going to stick this out, that we were successful. Think of this, our men and women were building hospitals and schools in the day time and looking for the bad guys at night and they found the worst.

KING: Yes. And Governor Richardson, you said that it's a time to internationalize this. Do you expect the administration will?

RICHARDSON: Secretary Baker, former Secretary Baker, who is a very skilled diplomat is going to Europe. I think, leaving tomorrow. And the objective there should be to persuade our European allies to restructure or forgive Iraq's debt.

But also say to them, look, you should participate in reconstruction, in troops. We'll revisit this contract issue. I think the administration made a mistake in refusing contracts to Canada, to France, to Germany, to Russia. That didn't make sense.

I think this is an opportunity to bring the international community, to talk to the European Union, to talk to NATO, to talk about, maybe some of the international war crimes tribunal function. And that's my hope.

I think the most immediate task though, Larry, is get as much information from Saddam Hussein. You know, we should preclude the fact that he may want a deal, and he has a lot of answers. We should be skillful in how we get those answers.

KING: Thank you all very much. When we come back, we'll with the prime minister of Australia, the honorable John Howard. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


BUSH: In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over. A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq.



KING: We now welcome for a return visit to our program, in Sydney, Australia is John Howard, the prime minister of Australia. Mr. Prime Minister, we understand the president of the United States called you today. What did he say?

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER, AUSTRALIA: Well, he rang me to talk about what had been announced, that was the capture of Saddam Hussein. We shared a satisfaction, a very deep satisfaction, and a common belief that this would be very good for the people of Iraq. He talked a little about the events that led up to it, the success of American intelligence. I congratulated the American military on its achievement. The American military, of course, is carrying a mighty (ph) burden in Iraq, and for their sakes in particular I think this is a wonderful development and will get the boys and girls of the U.S. defense force a great Christmas present, to feel that the person who's been the chief tormentor of the Iraqi people for so long, for more than 35 years, has now finally been arrested and he's going to face justice.

KING: And should that justice be by Iraqi trial, or international tribunal, in your opinion?

HOWARD: I would support a trial by Iraq in Iraq. Although Saddam Hussein committed many crimes against others, he conservatively has probably murdered about half a million of his own fellow countrymen and women. Perhaps more. He's tortured hundreds of thousands of others. He stabbed (ph) many. His many crimes have been committed against the people of Iraq, and it only seems fair and reasonable to me that they have the opportunity of trying him according to their laws. I hope that the trial if it takes place will allow enough time and be public enough for all of the crimes he's committed, to be detailed so that the world will know the full measure of what sort of person he was, why he had to be gotten rid of, and the world will never forget the crimes that he and his henchmen inflicted upon the Iraqis and upon many millions of other innocent people in the Middle East.

KING: You still have troops there. Are you concerned that there might be short term a little increase in the violence?

HOWARD: Well, Larry, that's very hard to know. It might happen. I certainly continue to worry about the safety of our troops, and indeed about the safety of all the allied troops. The likelihood in the medium to longer term is that with Hussein gone, the violence might begin to subside, but that might happen immediately, and it would be foolish indeed for people to imagine that just because Saddam Hussein has been caught then the violence is going to end. So it continues to be a very risky place, and I continue to be apprehensive, of course, about the safety of our own men and women, and also about the safety of Americans and British and other allied forces who were there in very large numbers.

KING: How long do you think your troops will stay?

HOWARD: Too early to say, Larry. They will stay while they have a job to do. We are not going to prematurely pull them out. We made a contribution, a very important contribution during the military conflict, and we said we'd maintain a reasonable number thereafter, not a huge number because we have peacekeeping obligations in our part of the world, but we don't intend to pull those troops out until they have done their job.

They are doing a fantastic job at present, and they will stay there for as long as it's necessary to achieve the objectives of stabilizing Iraq and providing Iraq with a hopeful democratic future. KING: Are you glad he was taken alive?

HOWARD: I am glad he was taken alive, because it will allow the opportunity of a trial. It will allow an opportunity for the world to be reminded, if necessary in painstaking detail, of the kind of person he was, and why his removal is such a long term boon for that country.

Sometimes, people of this nature die in the capture attempt. Sometimes they take their own lives and thus avoid that public exposure and public demonstration and reinforcement of everything that they had done to their people, and I believe that it's overwhelmingly to the good that he was taken alive, and I certainly look forward to a public trial in Baghdad, where the full measure of what he did to the Iraqi people is spelt out in graphic detail.

KING: You think this is a chance now to internationalize this occupation more?

HOWARD: Well, that really depends upon the willingness of other countries. I, of course, share the disappointment of President Bush and Tony Blair and others that many of the countries in Europe, apart from the United Kingdom, and Poland, and Spain and a few others, have been unwilling to contribute more resources and more people. The offer is there. The expression of hope is there. And in a way, the internationalization lies in the hands of those who thus far have been unwilling to participate. The obligation of internationalization lies on those who don't participate rather than those who do participate, because by their participation they are indicating a willingness to share the burden.

KING: Mr. Prime Minister, always good to see you. Thank you for sharing some time with us.

HOWARD: Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: John Howard, prime minister of Australia.

When we come back, Nic Robertson, Jane Arraf, Judith Miller and Colin Soloway will wrap things up. Don't go away.


BLAIR: The shadow of Saddam is finally lifted from the Iraqi people. We give thanks for that, but let this be more than a cause simply for rejoicing. Let it be a moment to reach out and to reconcile.




DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: Are you afraid of being killed or captured? SADDAM HUSSEIN, PRESIDENT OF IRAQ (through translator): Whatever Allah decides. We are believers. We believe in what he decides. There is no value for any life without faith. We did not ask the question whether we are going to live or die. It's morally unacceptable to ask such a question. Nothing is going to change the will of God. The believer still believes that what God decides is acceptable.


KING: That was Dan Rather, of course, CBS interview with Saddam Hussein.

Rejoining us now in Tikrit is Nic Robertson, in Baghdad is Jane Arraf, in Washington is Judith Miller and also in Washington is Colin Soloway.

Nic, we'll go round the panel here. Nic, where is Saddam Hussein now?

ROBERTSON: Good question, Larry. He spent about an hour close to this base in Tikrit. After that, all we know is that he went south, very likely he may have gone to Baghdad International Airport. That's where other high-value detainees have gone, but the coalition absolutely not saying that, Larry. That's the sort of information they just don't give away on any of their high-value detainees -- Larry.

KING: Jane, the trial would be in Baghdad, would it not?

ARRAF: It will eventually, Larry, but I think that trial is going to be a long way down the road. The U.S. gets the first crack at him, and presumably they've got a lot of questions to ask him.

KING: Judith Miller, I understand Ms. Rahim relayed something to you that you were going to relay to us before she left.

MILLER: Yes, she was absolutely adamant, Larry, that there could be no deals with Saddam Hussein, that if an American administration attempted to make such a deal, it would be absolutely rejected by every Iraq, even those who are now supporting the United States and who want the United States to succeed and to help them restore freedom in their country.

That being said, as Bill Richardson says, this is a man who has a lot of secrets. Secrets about WMDs, about all the deals he made with leaders in Europe, in Russia, elsewhere. He clearly is a survivor and will do whatever he can to survive.

KING: Colin, are you concerned about more violence in the short term?

SOLOWAY: You know, again, it's pretty difficult to say, Larry. I mean, I think, as everyone says, there may be some continuation of attacks. I mean, not everyone attacking American troops out there and attacking the CPA are necessarily supporters of Saddam. A lot of people -- a lot of resistance claims that they have nothing to do with Saddam and they don't support him, that this is a nationalist struggle.

But I think what's most important about this -- and ambassador, frankly, really made this point quite well, but I think it's difficult for Americans to understand the role that Saddam played in Iraqis' psyche. I mean, this guy for 30 years, for 35 years was just a colossus, in every aspect of their lives -- in their homes, in their schools, in their workplaces, and the damage that he and the Baath Party did to that society is so incredible that it's striking to people who, as we go there now, it really destroyed the psyche, destroyed the trust of people, of Iraqis, for one another, even for their own families. And you know, as long as Saddam was on the loose, there was always that fear, that lurking fear that the Big Brother was still there, that sooner or later, he was going to come back and he was going to get you, or the people who worked for him were going to get you.

And I think this is really in many ways sort of the ground zero for Iraq, as of today, as of Saddam being out of circulation, and I think everything, everything in Iraq in a way starts over from here, rather than end of the war.

KING: Well said. Now, Judith, when someone looms that large, when they go, when they leave the scene, now captured, that's kind of a mixed emotion, isn't it, for people? He's been like their terrible uncle.

MILLER: It is. If you remember the pictures of people crying when Stalin died...

KING: Yeah.

MILLER: There is enormously confliction, and Larry, I'd also say enormous confusion and even consternation in some parts of the Arab world who watched this. I mean, I talked to Saudi friends who were glued to their sets watching this picture of humiliation, and knowing, imagine if you were President Assad of Syria, knowing that the same thing could happen to you. I mean, Arabs will really have to think long and hard about what they've seen, and I don't think you're going to see a kind of instant reaction from the Arab world for quite some time, as the lesson of this sinks in. It's an extraordinary day, because I cannot remember a precedent for an Arab leader being taken hostage, being arrested, and humiliated as this one has been. And for the Iraqis who were tortured and killed under him, for their families, it's only the beginning of a very long process of normalization.

KING: Thank you all very much. I'll be back in a couple of minutes and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, more follow-up to this incredible story. What a day. And what a day it's been for Aaron Brown, who was on the scene early this morning and returns again tonight for a special, two-hour edition of "NEWSNIGHT." It was as they say, some kind of story.


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