The White House's Reaction To Hussein Verdict

AP - President Bush in Waco, Texas
AP - President Bush in Waco, Texas

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House on Sunday praised the Iraqi judicial system for its independence and denied the Bush administration had been "scheming" to arrange a verdict in Saddam Hussein's trial days before crucial U.S. elections.

"The judiciary is operating independently and we need to give them credit for doing their job and doing it in the way they saw fit and proper," presidential spokesman Tony Snow said.

Iraqis, he said, "are the ones who conducted the trial. The Iraqi judges are the ones who spent all the time pouring over the evidence. ... It's important to give them credit for running their own government."

Saddam was convicted and sentenced Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town.

Snow denied that the U.S. had any role in the timing of the verdict, two days before Americans vote in an election widely viewed as a referendum on Bush's Iraq policy.

"The idea is preposterous," he said, the idea "that somehow we've been scheming and plotting with the Iraqis."

Democrats are poised for large gains, hoping to take control of the House or Senate, or both, in Tuesday's balloting.