Would you be unable to repair the permissions by using the Disk Utility, chances are that the permissions of the utility in itself have gone wrong...
Therefore, you may want to try to repair them once by booting from the Panther install CD 1. The "Disk Utility" can be opened by using the "Installer" menu.
You may also want to go to the Apple support site to get some more help, either by browsing the Knowledge Base or by posting on the forums.
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