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Candid snaps show Hussein in half naked
Chicago Tribune
Candid snaps show Hussein in half monty
Tom Hundley
May 21, 2005

LONDON -- Usually London's tabloids rely on photos of half-naked young women to sell newspapers.

But on Friday, it was a picture of Saddam Hussein wearing only white jockey shorts that graced the front page of The Sun, Britain's most popular newspaper.

"Tyrant's In His Pants," mocked the banner headline. The Sun also published a close-up photo of the imprisoned Hussein sleeping and another of him washing out a pair of trousers.

The photos appear to be authentic, and the U.S. military said it would launch an investigation as to how The Sun obtained them.

The same photos ran in Friday's editions of the New York Post. Both The Sun and the Post are owned by Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

The Red Cross criticized the publication of the photos, saying it probably violated guidelines for the humane treatment of prisoners outlined in the Geneva Conventions. Others suggested that the publication of such humiliating photos would offend Muslim sensibilities and fan anti-American sentiment.

President Bush was briefed by senior aides Friday morning about the photos and "strongly supports the aggressive and thorough investigation that is already under way" that seeks to find who took them, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said.

The Sun was unrepentant.

"This is a man who breached the Geneva Convention more times than you've had hot dinners, so please don't talk to us about the Geneva Convention," Graham Dudman, the paper's managing editor told The Guardian newspaper.

"I would defy any paper that got these photographs and knew they were genuine, not to publish them," he added.

On The Sun's page 3, the spot normally reserved for a photo of a bare-breasted woman, readers were instead treated to a full-page picture of Hussein in a night shirt, seated in a plastic chair, scrubbing a pair of trousers.

The Sun said it had obtained the photos from a U.S. military source who hoped that their publication would deal "a body blow" to the Iraqi insurgency.

The tabloid quoted the unnamed source as saying, "Saddam is not superman or God, he is now just an aging and humble old man. It's important that the people of Iraq see him like that to destroy the myth."

The U.S. military in Baghdad issued a statement saying it was "disappointed at the possibility that someone responsible for the security, welfare and detention of Saddam would take and provide these photos for public release."

The statement said that the incident "is being aggressively investigated to determine, if possible, who took the photos and to ensure existing procedures and directives are complied with to prevent this from happening again."

At the time of Hussein's capture in December 2003, the U.S. military was criticized by some for releasing videos and photos of the bedraggled Iraqi leader undergoing a medical checkup.

Aside from a brief court appearance last July, Hussein has been kept from public view. He is being held at a secret location in Iraq. Only his U.S. military jailers, his lawyers and the Red Cross have access to him.

Lawyers for Hussein said Friday that they plan to sue The Sun for publishing the unauthorized photos.

The Sun, meanwhile, was offering rights to its pictures to other publications. The asking price was reported to be about $35,000. The paper also is promising to publish more pictures of Hussein on Saturday.