As the Central Intelligence Agency took charge of interrogating the ousted Iraqi leader, Bush suggested Hussein should receive "the ultimate penalty".
  
Even though execution may reopen divisions with the United Nations and even some allies who oppose execution, Bush justified his wish on ABC television.
  
"He is a torturer, a murderer, and they had rape rooms, and this is a disgusting tyrant who deserves justice, the ultimate justice," Bush went on.
  
Interrogaton and intelligence

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the CIA had been put in charge of questioning the former president to get information on how to end the growing resistance in the country.
  
Hussein would remain in US military custody at a secret location and CIA director George Tenet would manage the former Iraqi leader's interrogation.

Although he could not say what crimes had been committed against Americans, Bush said he had no desire for a personal encounter with the former president.

"I've seen enough of him. I saw him getting deloused and after having been pulled out of a rat hole."
  
UN unimpressed

No details have been announced about how Hussein will be tried, but the president of the US-installed interim Iraqi Governing Council Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim has said Saddam could face the death penalty if convicted in an Iraqi court.
  
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has already come out strongly against capital punishment however.
  
"This should be done through open trials in properly established courts of law which will respect basic international norms and standards, including respect for international humanitarian law," Annan said on Monday.
  
"The UN does not support the death penalty and all the courts we've set up have not included the death penalty. So as secretary general and the UN as an organisation are not going to now turn around and support the death penalty."
  
Death penalty objections

"I've seen enough of him. I saw him getting deloused and after having been pulled out of a rat hole."

George Bush,
US president

Emilio Vianno, an expert on international law, said Bush knew a death penalty would cause international controversy.   

"He prefers to leave it to the Iraqis to take responsibility for the trial because he is certain that the Iraqis will not hesitate to execute him," Vianno said.
  
Vianno also said the United States did  not want an international trial as it could raise past links between the former Iraqi and US administrations.
  
Much of the death penalty dispute could centre on the recently drawn up criminal law for Iraq.
  
Ratings

Hussein's capture has given Bush a ratings boost, but few Americans think that the United States is now safer from terrorism, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Tuesday.
   
The poll found that in the two days after Saddam's capture, Bush's overall approval rating rose six points to 58%, the highest level since last July, and up from 52% in the four days before the former Iraqi leader's arrest.
   
But 60% of Americans believe his status will make no difference in the terror threat against the United States, the poll found. 
   
About 1057 adults were polled December 10-13 prior to Saddam's capture. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3% points.
   
Private criticism

Bush admitted he had taken some heat in private from his own wife for inappropriate comments he had made in public.
   
Laura Bush was critical of his "wanted dead or alive" remark made in reference to ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and his "bring 'em on" challenge to Iraqi insurgents, Bush said in an interview on ABC News "Primetime."
   
"Yeah, she said something about it," Bush said laughing. "She didn't like my rhetoric... and I take it, I take it to heart," he added.

"That doesn't necessarily mean I change, but I take it to heart."