Iraqi television has shown what it says is a new speech by Saddam Hussein, and video of him walking the streets of Baghdad.
A US intelligence official says the speech that aired on Friday suggests the Iraqi leader may have survived a March 20th airstrike on his bunker, because it refers to the downing of a US helicopter on March 24th, four days after the US-led war in Iraq began.
The official -- speaking on condition of anonymity -- said the speech is not conclusive proof that Saddam is still alive. But the official says the reference to the helicopter suggests it was taped after the airstrike on Saddam's Baghdad bunker.
White House spokesman Ari Fleisher says the Bush administration doesn't know if Saddam is alive or dead, but he added, in his words, "in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter."
Iraqi television has also broacast videotape of what it said is Saddam visiting bombed areas of Baghdad today and being mobbed by cheering Iraqi citizens. Dark smoke is visible in the background, possibly an indication the footage was taped after the war started. Analysts note that Saddam is known to have a number of body doubles.
On Thursday, U-S military intelligence officials said they thought all of Saddam's television appearances to that point had been taped before the war started. The officials said they do not know if Saddam is alive or dead.
Earlier on Friday, Iraq's foreign minister,Naji Sabri told British radio Saddam Hussein is alive and the country's leadership is functioning. He would not say if he had personally seen the Iraqi president.