An Iraqi lawyer said the 24 or 25 officials from Saddam's government were released from jail without charges, and some have already left the country.
"The release was an American-Iraqi decision and in line with an Iraqi government ruling made in December 2004, but hasn't been enforced until after the elections in an attempt to ease the political pressure in Iraq," said the lawyer, Badee Izzat Aref.
Among them were Rihab Taha, a British-educated biological weapons expert, who was known as "Dr. Germ" for her role in making bio-weapons in the 1980s, and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, known as "Mrs. Anthrax," a former top Baath Party official and biotech researcher, Aref said.
"Because of security reasons, some of them want to leave the country," he said. He declined to elaborate, but noted "some have already left Iraq today."
Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, would say only that eight individuals formerly designated as high-value detainees were released Saturday after a board process found they were no longer a security threat and no charges would be filed against them.
Neither the U.S. military or Iraqi officials would disclose any of the names, but a legal official in Baghdad said Taha and Ammash were among those released.
The official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, said those released also included Hossam Mohammed Amin, head of the weapons inspections directorate, and Aseel Tabra, an Iraqi Olympic Committee official under Odai Saddam Hussein, the former leader's son.
In other recent developments:
The video from the extremist group The Islamic Army of Iraq was posted on a Web site and showed a man being shot in the back of the head.
The group claimed it had killed civilian contractor Ronald Allen Schulz, a native of North Dakota.
The video did not show the face of the victim, however, and it was impossible to identify him conclusively. The victim was kneeling with his back to the camera, with his hands tied behind his back and blindfolded with an Arab headdress when he was shot.
The killing showed the man being shot as he kneeled in an open, empty area of dirt. The video also showed Schulz's identity card.
In a separate video, shown on a split screen with the killing, the extremist group also showed a picture of Schulz alive. The group had aired the same video of Schulz alive when he was first taken hostage earlier this month.
The group first claimed to have killed Schulz in an Internet posting last week. It had said then that it would show the killing.
Schulz, a civilian contractor, has been identified by the extremist group as a security consultant for the Iraqi Housing Ministry, although neighbors and family from Alaska, where he lives, say he is an industrial electrician who has worked on contracts around the world.
Schulz served in the Marine Corps from 1984 to 1991. He moved to Alaska six years ago, and friends and family say he is divorced.
The German government, meanwhile, said kidnappers had freed a German woman taken hostage with her driver in northern Iraq more than three weeks ago. Susanne Osthoff, a 43-year-old aid worker and archaeologist, was reported in good condition in the care of the German Embassy in Baghdad. It was unclear whether Osthoff's Iraqi driver had also been freed.