U.S. Frowns On Saddam Skivvy Pix

IT MAY BE THE MOST SHOCKING PHOTO YET OF SADDAM HUSSEIN, RIGHT ON PAGE ONE OF A BRITISH TABLOID THIS MORNING. U-S OFFICIALS WANT TO KNOW HOW THE PICTURE GOT OUT." CBS

Tabloid photographs Friday of an imprisoned Saddam Hussein naked except for his white underwear prompted a U.S. military investigation and condemnation from the Red Cross. President Bush said he did not think the images would incite further anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

Some Iraqis called the photos the latest in a series of insults to Arabs and Muslims. Others, however, said the humiliation is just what the 68-year-old former dictator deserves.

Regardless of any effect the images may have on Iraq's insurgency, they were certain to offend Arab sensibilities and heap more scorn on an American image already tarnished by the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison and allegations by Newsweek, later retracted, about desecration of the Quran at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"It is clear that the pictures were taken inside the prison, which means that American soldiers have leaked the pictures," said Saddam's chief lawyer, Ziad al-Khasawneh. He said the photos "add to acts that are practiced against the Iraqi people, and of course we remember what happened in Abu Ghraib and we remember what happened in Guantanamo."

The photographs were published in Britain's The Sun and the New York Post, both controlled by Rupert Murdoch. The tabloids said the photos were provided by a U.S. military official it did not identify who hoped it would deal a "body blow" to the insurgency.

The Sun quotes military guards as saying that while Saddam threw a few temper tantrums just after his arrest, he's now one of their best-behaved prisoners, CBS News Correspondent Steve Holt reports. The paper also claims it got the pictures from sources who hoped to deal a body blow to the Iraqi resistance.

Sun managing editor Graham Dudman told The Associated Press that the newspaper paid "a small sum" for the photos. He would not elaborate except to say it was more than 500 British pounds, which is about $900. The paper said it would publish more photos Saturday.

Saddam's attorney said he would sue the newspaper "and everyone who helped in showing these pictures."

An apparently embarrassed U.S. military in Baghdad said the publication of the photos violated U.S. military guidelines "and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals."

"Publishing the type of pictures of Saddam Hussein that appeared in both U.S. and British newspapers may be politically embarrassing but it also is a clear violation of the Third Geneva Convention which deals with Treatment of Prisoners," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk, who is an international law professor.

"The Geneva Convention has several provisions that were created to govern prisoner treatment against this type of mockery, regardless of the character of the prisoner," said Falk. "This type of photograph violates international law and plays into the hands of critics of U.S. policy."

CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth reports that similar questions about compliance with the Geneva code were raised when the U.S. handed out video of Hussein after his capture nearly two years ago. American officials at the time said the pictures were published not to humiliate him, but to prove his fall from power to doubters.

A spokesman, Staff Sgt. Don Dees, said the military would question the troops responsible for Saddam. Officials were trying to determine whether the images were taken from a surveillance camera or hand-held camera.

President Bush was asked Friday whether the photos could inspire violence just as a Newsweek magazine report about service members putting a holy Quran in a toilet at a prison camp, reports CBS' Aleen Sirgany.

"You know, I don't think a photo inspires murderers," Mr. Bush said. "I think they're inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards."

But later the White House acknowledged the photographs could have a serious impact, much like the discovery of images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.

White House press spokesman Trent Duffy said the photos could be perceived by members of the insurgency in much the same way as revelations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib.

"This could have serious impact, as we talked about, with the revelations of prisoner abuse," he said. "What the United States did in both of those situations, however, is recognize that, take immediate steps to investigate and get to the bottom of why it happened and how it happened and take steps to make sure that ... people are held to account."

  • Joel Roberts

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