Saddam Hussein accused the White House yesterday of lying, citing its prewar assertions that Iraq had chemical weapons and its denial of his statement that he had been tortured in American custody.
Speaking at the start of the seventh session of his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, the former president rekindled his battle of words with Washington.
"The White House are liars. They said Iraq had chemical weapons," he told the court.
"They lied again when they said that what Saddam said was wrong," he added, referring to a White House dismissal of his claim during Wednesday's hearing that he was tortured.
Iraq developed chemical weapons in the 1980s and used them against Iran and against Iraqi Kurds. It is now thought to have destroyed its remaining stocks after the 1991 Gulf War.
Saddam made his torture allegation during Wednesday's hearing and said he had bruises on his body to prove it. He did not, however, show any bruises and the judge has so far made no public ruling on whether the allegation should be investigated.
"That's one of the most preposterous things I've heard from Saddam Hussein recently," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in Washington in response.
"Saddam Hussein is being treated the exact opposite of the way his regime treated those he imprisoned and tortured simply for expressing their opinions. And so I reject that."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the allegation as highly ironic. "Look, he's been given to grandstanding in this trial," he said.
There was more theatre yesterday in a trial that has sometimes been chaotic since it began on October 19.
The judge dismissed a courtroom guard after the defendants complained he had threatened them, and Saddam's half-brother and co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti accused prosecutors of being former fellow-members of the Baath party.
"This is the biggest insult in my life, to be associated with this blood-stained party," replied one prosecutor, who asked to be relieved of his duties because of personal insults from the dock - a request dismissed by the Kurdish judge.
Barzan, who has emerged as the most outspoken of the defendants, eclipsing even Saddam, complained about the way the trial was being televised. It is being broadcast with a delay of 30 minutes to allow court officials to censor images and sound.