FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Saddam Hussein’s FBI Interviews

Saddam Hussein was questioned by the FBI during 20 formal interviews and at least five “casual conversations” over a four-month period from February to May 2004 after his capture by US troops in December 2003.
Transcripts of the interviews were released last week in response to US Freedom of Information requests. Asked about his greatest achievements, the former Iraqi leader cited social progress for ordinary Iraqis, a temporary ceasefire with the Kurds in the early 1970s, the nationaliation of Iraq’s oil in 1972, and support for the Arab side during the 1973 Middle East war with Israel.

The Saddam Hussein interviews are interesting for what they reveal and what they conceal. Probably right up to the end, Saddam was talking up the Iranian threat to Iraq, knowing that this would confirm American suspicions of Iran. The Iraqi leader would recall that a joint front against Iran had been the basis of Iraqi-American co-operation in the 1980s.

“Hussein explained that Iraq could not appear weak to its enemies, especially Iran,” records FBI special agent George Piro who interviewed him. This is the explanation the Iraqi leader presents for keeping the world guessing if he had weapons of mass destruction. In reality, the Iraqi leader made every effort to prove that he had no WMD.

The anti-Iranian theme is constant throughout, and no doubt Saddam believed it as well as saying it out of political calculation. Of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, he says: “Khomeini and Iran would have occupied all of the Arab world if it had not been for Iraq.”

But US intelligence documents about Iraqi intentions in 1980 show Saddam Hussein and other leaders launching a surprise attack on Iran because they thought it was militarily weak following the Iranian revolution of 1979. In a disastrous miscalculation they believed the war would be over soon and they would win back territorial concessions they had made to the Shah in 1975.

Saddam was astute in his assessment of internal Iraqi politics, but was catastrophically wrong in his calculations of how foreign powers would respond to his actions. This is not surprising for a man who only briefly left Iraq during his whole life. Most importantly, he wrecked his country by his two invasions: Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990.

He denies that the Baath party was Sunni-dominated when it first became a force in 1958-63, though this was true by 1968. He makes the unlikely claim that he was unaware for years that his long-time lieutenant Tariq Aziz was a Christian. Asked about the Shia uprising of 1991 in southern Iraq, in which as many 150,000 people may have been killed, he says the insurgents were “thieves, rebels” and came “from Iran”. Yet thousands of bodies of Shia men, women and children have been unearthed from mass graves south of Baghdad and the few survivors leave no doubt they were killed in a mass punishment because they were Shia.

It is interesting to see Saddam deny that he was ever at the Dora farm in south Baghdad at which the US launched a missile attack at the start of the war in 2003 because of intelligence he was there. It would be interesting to know how many Iraqi civilians died because of such attacks based on dubious tips to the CIA.

Saddam Hussein’s failing was not stupidity, but arrogance and brutality and this impression is confirmed by these interviews. He was a man of intelligence who came to believe that he had semi-divine attributes.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the co-author with Andrew Cockburn of Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession.

 

 

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail