Originally created 12/15/03

U.S. capitalizes on Saddam's capture, nabbing other regime figures



BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's capture is already reaping dividends for the U.S. military, providing intelligence that allowed U.S. soldiers to capture several top regime figures and uncover rebel cells in the capital, a U.S. general said Monday.

The U.S. military hopes Saddam will clear up allegations that he had chemical and biological weapons and a nuclear weapons program, said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling of the 1st Armored Division.

"I certainly think some of that will come out," Hertling said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think we'll get some significant intelligence over the next couple of days."

Since Saddam's capture on Saturday, U.S. Army teams from the 1st Armored Division have captured one high-ranking former regime figure - who has yet to be named - and that prisoner has given up a few others, Hertling said. All the men are currently being interrogated and more raids are expected, Hertling said.

The intelligence that led the military to the men came from the first transcript of Saddam's initial interrogation, and a briefcase of documents Saddam carried with him at the time of his arrest, Hertling said.

"We've already gleaned intelligence value from his capture," Hertling said. "We've already been able to capture a couple of key individuals here in Baghdad. We've completely confirmed one of the cells. It's putting the pieces together and it's connecting the dots. It has already helped us significantly in Baghdad."

The intelligence has also given the U.S. military a far clearer picture of the guerrillas' command and control network in the city, and has confirmed the existence of rebel cells whose existence was previously only suspected, Hertling said.

From the initial batch of successes, Hertling said it was apparent that Saddam still played some role in leading the anti-U.S. insurgency.

"I'm sure he was giving some guidance to some key figures in this insurgency," Hertling said.

Hertling said the 1st Armored Division had also received intelligence from other sources on attacks Monday in Baghdad. The division received tips earlier in December that a spate of car bombings would start in mid-December.

"We have some intelligence that things are going to happen," Hertling said.

Hertling said he hopes Saddam will divulge secrets on everything from mass grave sites to the whereabouts of missing regime figures and "past sins of the regime we may not even know about."

"We certainly can gather intelligence he has on the organization of the insurgency, who their leaders are, how the cells are performing, how they're being commanded and controlled, who's funding them and what their connections are to crime," Hertling said.