"He has not been cooperative in terms of talking or anything like that," Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told CBS' "60 Minutes." 

 

Although Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez, the top US military commander in Iraq, described Saddam as talkative and cooperative, other officials shied away from suggesting that he had provided any useful intelligence so far.


An official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described Saddam's demeanour as sullen, not overtly defiant, but sarcastic.

Time magazine reported earlier on Sunday that during his first interrogation, Saddam denied his regime had any weapons of mass destruction.
  
"No, of course not," the weekly quoted him as saying. "The US dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us."
 
But Rumsfeld dodged the question of whether the Bush administration would be open to striking a bargain with Saddam, under which he would provide information about alleged weapons of mass destruction in exchange for escaping, for example, the death penalty. 

Bargaining

However, Saddam asked to negotiate when US forces captured him, said Major Brian Reed, operations commander of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.

"He said, 'I am Saddam Hussein, I am the president of Iraq and I want to negotiate'," said Reed on Monday.  

Under the Geneva accords, every captured fighter is entitled to humane treatment, including shelter, clothing, food and medical attention. 

"The reponse was 'President (George) Bush sends his regards'," Reed said, adding that a US soldier reported the conversation from Saturday night when Saddam was caught.

Rumsfeld has said Washington will grant captured former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein the protections stemming from the Geneva Conventions.

But Rumsfeld stopped short of saying the ousted Iraqi leader, who has been eluding US troops for almost nine months, would be granted formal prisoner of war status.
  
Instead, Saddam Hussein's future would be determined in consultations "at a very high level" with US coalition partners after thorough legal analysis of the situation, said Rumsfeld.

He said that the former president's "treatment will be governed by the Geneva Conventions," adding that "he will be accorded the privileges as if he were a prisoner of war."
  
The comments raised questions about whether US intelligence agencies would be able to mine Saddam for information because under the Geneva Conventions, he is obligated to give his captors only his name, date of birth, rank and regimental serial number.

Accountability
  
The Defence Secretary said that given Saddam's record of mass killings, he "will have to be held accountable and brought to justice in some form in some way." 

Saddam's medical inspection was
seen by some as humiliating

But whether he will be facing capital punishment is open to debate.
  
The death penalty has been suspended in Iraq, following the ouster of the former government.
  
However, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said its reinstatement was one of the legal issues being discussed by the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority.
 
"This is a controversial issue that under the circumstances may continue until we have a sovereign government, until we have elections to revise and review," he said.
  
Under an existing plan, Iraq's sovereignty is to be restored in June 2004.

Treatment
  
Under the Geneva accords, every captured fighter is entitled to humane treatment, including shelter, clothing, food and medical attention. 

Even those suspected of war crimes cannot be subjected to torture or corporal punishment.
  
Six hundred US soldiers nabbed Saddam Hussein late on Saturday, after finding him hiding in a hole, dug under a small hut just 15km southeast of his native town, Tikrit.