WASHINGTON – The Pentagon may be intent on "decapitating" Saddam Hussein's regime, but some lawmakers say they would prefer to try Saddam and his cronies as war criminals.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the Iraqi government not only tolerates war crimes, but incorporates them into their military response to U.S.-led coalition forces, in particular by urging suicide bombings by soldiers posing as civilians seeking assistance from coalition troops.
Specter added that trying Saddam and others would be psychologically therapeutic.
"[It] would have an enormous salutary effect ... to hold him up as a war criminal, to try him and convict him ... and sentence him to life in prison," Specter said.
Specter along with Sen. Joe Biden, D-Vt., and Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., are introducing concurrent resolutions in the Senate and House that would prosecute Iraqi government officials who directed or violated international laws of war.
"Soliciting suicide bombers, hiding munitions in holy sites, using civilians as human shields -- these are clear violations of the rules of armed conflict. No one should believe they can get away with such crimes. This resolution puts the world on notice that war crimes being committed in Iraq will be prosecuted," said Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Added Weldon: "We want [Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister] Tariq Aziz to know personally we are holding him responsible. This war is not just about Saddam Hussein .... We need to send a signal ... that they're going to be held accountable if they commit these atrocities."
The Pentagon still couldn't confirm on Tuesday whether a B-1 bomber attack on a building in a residential area of Baghdad took out Saddam, one or both of his sons and several other members of Iraq's leadership. The attack, which used four "bunker buster" bombs, sent 8,000 pounds of munitions into the neighborhood, creating a crater 60 feet deep. Officials say they must dig out the remains found in the blast site and test it.
U.S. officials told Fox News that some "early indications are positive, but they are very preliminary. But we have reason to be optimistic."
Since the devastating attack on Iraq by U.S. forces began nearly three weeks ago, officials are learning more and more about the sadistic nature of Saddam's regime. Iraqis on the ground have started talking to U.S. troops, detailing everything from the lack of adequate health care to the execution of entire families as a means to silence children who say aloud they don't like Saddam.
The resolution condemns Iraqi war crimes and puts the government on notice that the United States, United Kingdom and coalition forces will pursue and prosecute the atrocities and those that order and solicit them.
Members of the regime could be held up to standards of the Geneva Conventions and The Hague. Specter and Weldon added that it would be particularly appropriate to try war criminals inside Iraq, though Biden said The Hague could conduct the trials.
Fox News' Julie Asher contributed to this report.