The world’s news networks rolled out year-old footage on Monday of a bedraggled and grubby Saddam being examined by a US army medic shortly after being dug out of a hole by US forces.
But in the United States, the sense of confidence those images intially inspired was in short supply.
Anti-US violence and the troubled preparations for elections still scheduled for 30 January now dominate US headlines rather than Saddam and moves to bring him to trial.
About 1300 American troops have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, more than 1000 in combat.
Seven more US troops were killed in combat in Iraq on Sunday, the military announced, and seven Iraqis died in a car bombing in Baghdad on Monday – the latest evidence that the job in Iraq is far from over.
A US magazine reported on Sunday that Saddam planned the anti-US campaign well before his capture on 13 December last year.
War crimes charges
US News and World Report quoted military intelligence as saying that in late 2002 Saddam sent more than 1000 security and intelligence officials to two military facilities near Baghdad for special training.
Americans also had rare word of their former nemesis in reports that he had launched a hunger strike to protest his detention, a development firmly denied by the US military.
Since the 2003 invasion Iraq has
Saddam faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
He is accused in particular of illegally invading Kuwait, and of massacring thousands of Iraqi Shias and Kurds in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Saddam is expected to deny the charges, and his legal team has repeatedly accused the United States of denying them access to their client.
The 67-year-old former president is being held in US custody in a secret location in Iraq and has reportedly received recent treatment for an enlarged prostate gland, hernia problems and eye trouble.
A year ago, Bush said his capture had been essential for the emergence of a free Iraq. He called upon Iraqis to reject violence and come together build a new Iraq.
Detaining the ousted Iraqi leader boosted the stock market and the dollar, and the price of oil fell.
Opinion poll support for the Iraq war rose and the US public also showed itself more confident that Usama bin Ladin would be caught.
A year later, the US death toll in Iraq increases every day.
Charges against Saddam
– Ethnic cleansing of Kurds in 1988
– Gassing Kurds in Halabja in 1988
– Invasion of Kuwait in 1990
– Crushing of Kurd and Shia rebellions after 1991 Gulf War
– Killing political activists over 30 years
– Massacre of members of the Barzani tribe in 1983
– Killing of religious leaders in 1974
Thousands of Iraqis have also lost their lives in that time in countless rocket attacks, bombs and the killing of individuals
The United States has ordered an increase of 12,000 in the number of troops in Iraq – taking the total to about 150,000 – before the elections.
The Bush administration has also had to admit that the violence has held up the reconstruction of Iraq.
The US army has begun more than 1000 reconstruction projects in Iraq but dire security threatens their completion, the US officer in charge of rebuilding the war-torn country said on Thursday.
“Security and reconstruction go hand in hand,” said US army engineer corps commander Brigadier General Thomas Bostik, who still emphasised the importance of the projects to bringing stability to Iraq.