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Bush Meets With Victims of Hussein's Government

لقاء الرئيس بوش مع الاخ محمد الجبوري في البالتوك المعروف بابوتراب

By NEDRA PICKLER

Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, January 18, 2006; 4:13 PM

 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Iraqis who said they were beaten and imprisoned and lost loved ones at the hands of Saddam Hussein's Government shared their stories Wednesday with President Bush, who said the former Iraqi president "will get his due justice."

There was an emotional atmosphere in the hourlong meeting, participants said, as Bush went around a table in the Roosevelt Room asking each of the roughly dozen Iraqis to tell their experiences. Bush said they told "stories of sadness and stories of bravery."

   

"One of the interesting moments will come here this year when Saddam Hussein's trial is brought forth for the world to see, to see the butcherer, the person who brutalized many people or ordered the brutality of many people here at this table, get his due justice under rule of law," the president told reporters brought in for two minutes at the end of the meeting.

Raid Mohammad, who sat at Bush's right arm during the meeting, said he permanently left Iraq on the advice of his father, an outspoken journalist who was repeatedly imprisoned by Saddam's government. The father was kidnapped in 1981 and his body was left on the family's doorstep three days later, Mohammad said.

"I always say the best thing that have ever happened to Iraq in the last 30 years is the removal of Saddam," Mohammad, who now lives in Austin, Texas, told reporters as he left the White House. "But the scariest thing is that within three years, I can see and I can feel that some of those who were brutalized by Saddam started to feel nostalgic for the days of Saddam. That is the most dangerous scenario."

The White House denied that the meeting, added to the president's public schedule Tuesday evening, was meant to deflect criticism of the administration in an annual report from Human Rights Watch issued Wednesday.

The report said the Bush administration has a deliberate strategy of abusing terror suspects during interrogations. The White House accused the organization of having a political agenda and ignoring the fact that the United States has liberated millions from tyranny.

President Meets with Victims of Saddam Hussein, Discusses Progress
The Roosevelt Room

 

     Fact sheetIn Focus: Renewal in Iraq
 

11:50 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, thank you all for coming. It's been my honor to visit with folks who know firsthand the brutality of Saddam Hussein. These are folks who have suffered, one way or the other, because the tyrant was a law unto himself, and was willing to deny people basic human rights. The stories here are compelling stories. They're stories of sadness and stories of bravery.

 In the course of our discussion, we were also able to talk about what a contrast it is between a society which was willing to jail people, torture people and beat people and kill people, to a society that is beginning to understand the fruits of democracy and freedom.

Last year was an amazing year in Iraq. Millions of people went to the polls to vote first in January, then to ratify a constitution, and then back to the polls again to elect a government under the new constitution. It's a testimony to the courage of the Iraqi people. Obviously, we still have got work to do, and fully intend to do it.

And one of the interesting moments will come here this year when Saddam Hussein's trial is brought forth for the world to see, to see the butcherer, the person who brutalized many people or ordered the brutality of many people here at this table, get his due justice under rule of law.

And so I want to thank you all for coming. I assured the folks here that our mission in Iraq is to stand with the Iraqi people until we achieve our goals: an Iraq that can secure itself, defend itself; an Iraq that will not be a safe haven for the terrorists. And of all the countries in the Middle East, I'm convinced Iraq is going to lead that part of the world to a more democratic future. The Iraqi people are brave and courageous and smart people.

And so thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your stories. I appreciate it very much.

END 11:52 A.M. EST

 

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