(State Department) -- President Bush said former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein exacerbated ethnic and sectarian divisions within his country in order to keep himself in power, and the current "toxic atmosphere" in Iraq "bears witness to his terrible handiwork."
Speaking March 29 to the Freedom House organization in Washington, Bush said "much of the animosity and violence we now see is the legacy of Saddam Hussein," because before his regime, Iraqis from different ethnic, tribal and religious communities managed to live together.
"To prevent these different groups from coming together to challenge his regime, Saddam Hussein undertook a deliberate strategy of maintaining control by dividing the Iraqi people," Bush said.
Much of Iraq's Shi'a population has "deep divisions and scars," and Sunnis outside of Hussein's family and tribe also were suspect and subject to brutal suppression by his forces, Bush said.
"It is hard to overstate the effects of Saddam's brutality on the Iraqi nation