WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Baghdad bunker which the United States said it bombed on the opening night of the Iraq (news - web sites) war in a bid to kill Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) never existed, CBS Evening News reported Wednesday.
The network quoted a U.S. Army colonel in charge of inspecting key sites in Baghdad as saying no trace of a bunker or of bodies had been found at the site on the southern outskirts of the Iraqi capital, known as Dora Farms.
"When we came out here, the primary thing they were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics, and basically, what they saw was giant holes created. No underground facilities, no bodies," Col. Tim Madere said.
CBS, saying it was the first news organization to visit the site, reported that the CIA (news - web sites) had searched it once and Col. Madere had searched it twice as part of efforts to find traces of DNA that could indicate if Saddam or his sons had been killed or wounded.
The network said the main palace in the compound remained standing despite the surrounding destruction. It quoted Madere as saying anyone who had been in the building could have survived the raid.
Shortly after the attack, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters: "There's no question but that the strike on that leadership headquarters was successful. We have photographs of what took place. The question is, what was in there?"
The United States effectively acknowledged that the March 20 raid failed to kill Saddam when it launched a second air attack aimed at the Iraqi president on April 7.
The fate of Saddam and his sons Uday and Qusay is still unclear.
Rumsfeld said earlier this month, "If you don't have evidence he's dead, you've probably got to assume he's alive."