Posted by: Puddy Dunne | July 1, 2009

Saddam Hussein Talks to the FBI

Twenty Interviews and Five Conversations with “High Value Detainee # 1″ in 2004

Washington, D.C., July 1, 2009 – FBI special agents carried out 20 formal interviews and at least 5 “casual conversations” with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after his capture by U.S. troops in December 2003, according to secret FBI reports released as the result of Freedom of Information Act requests by the National Security Archive and posted today on the Web at www.nsarchive.org.

 
 

 saddam2

Saddam denied any connections to the “zealot” Osama bin Laden, cited North Korea as his most likely ally in a crunch, and shared President George W. Bush’s hostility towards the “fanatic” Iranian mullahs, according to the FBI records of conversations from February through June 2004 between Saddam and Arabic-speaking agents in his detention cell at Baghdad International Airport.

The former Iraqi leader, when asked about his accomplishments, listed social progress for the people of Iraq, a temporary truce with the Kurds in the early 1970s, the nationalization of Iraq’s oil in 1972, support for the Arab side during the 1973 Middle East war with Israel, and after that, for the remaining 30 years of his rule, simple survival – through a devastating eight year war with Iran that he had launched, and a 12-year sanctions regime imposed on his people after another war that he began.  During the interviews he repeatedly contests FBI evidence and the neutrality of his interlocutors – which one of them finds ironic, given the record of peremptory Iraqi justice under Saddam’s governance.  He selectively outlines recent Iraqi history and acknowledges some mistakes, including the destruction without U.N. supervision or verification of some of Iraq’s WMD arsenal left over from the 1980s.

During the interviews Saddam refutes some examples of what he views as myths, like his purported use of body doubles.  Instead he says that to evade his enemies he never used the telephone and traveled constantly from one dwelling to another (he describes the farm where he was captured in a “spider hole” as the same place where he took refuge after a failed 1959 coup attempt.)

He takes personal responsibility for ordering the launching of SCUD missiles against Israeli targets during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, because he blamed Israel and its influence in the U.S. for “all the problems of the Arabs”, but denies that his purpose was to draw that country into the conflict and to divide Washington from its Arab allies.  He provides details on the lead-up to the war, reporting that during a January 1991 meeting former Secretary of State James Baker told Saddam’s foreign minister that if Iraq did not comply with U.S. conditions “we’ll take you back to the pre-industrial stage.”

Saddam’s historical recollections include his ascendancy within the Ba’athist party in 1968 and 1969; his disappointment after the Iran-Iraq war with Arab governments for their lack of gratitude for Iraq’s “saving all of the Arab world” from occupation by Iran; details about the 1991 Persian Gulf war; and the post-war Shi’a uprising in Iraq’s south, which he characterizes as “treachery” instigated by Iran.

Not included in these FBI reports are issues of particular interest to students of Iraq’s complicated relationship with the U.S. – the reported role of the CIA in facilitating the Ba’ath party’s rise to power, the uneasy alliance forged between Iraq and the U.S. during the Iran-Iraq war, and the precise nature of U.S. views regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons policy during that conflict, given its contemporaneous knowledge of their repeated use against Iranians and the Kurds.

This series of interviews also does not address chemical warfare in Kurdish areas of Iraq in 1987-1988, although an FBI progress report says Saddam was questioned on the topic.  One interview, #20, is redacted in its entirety on national security grounds, although it is not clear what issues agents could have discussed with Saddam that cannot now be disclosed to the public.

The interviews and conversations were led by George L. Piro, one of an exceedingly small number of FBI agents who spoke Arabic.  The agency expected that Saddam would feel rapport with Piro and develop a sense of dependency.  During the interviews Piro hears Saddam out but is often openly skeptical of the former leader’s recollections.  The agent does, however, assert with confidence that the U.S. side had information that Iraq was maintaining or developing a WMD capability and cites “evidence” of continuing contact between Iran and al-Qaeda, seemingly implying an operational relationship.

 


Read the Documents
Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

 

  1. 1.                   FBI Form, January 1, 2004
  2. 2.                   Interview Session 1, February 7, 2004
  3. 3.                   Interview Session 2, February 8, 2004
  4. 4.                   Interview Session 3, February 10, 2004
  5. 5.                   Interview Session 4, February 13, 2004
  6. 6.                   Interview Session 5, February 15, 2004
  7. 7.                   Interview Session 6, February 16, 2004
  8. 8.                   Interview Session 7, February 18, 2004
  9. 9.                   Interview Session 8, February 20, 2004
  10. 10.               Interview Session 9, February 24, 2004
  11. 11.               Interview Session 10, February 27, 2004
  12. 12.               Interview Session 11, March 3, 2004
  13. 13.               Interview Session 12, March 5, 2004
  14. 14.               Interview Session 13, March 11, 2004
  15. 15.               Interview Session 14, March 13, 2004
  16. 16.               Interview Session 15, March 16, 2004
  17. 17.               Interview Session 16, March 19, 2004
  18. 18.               Interview Session 17, March 23, 2004
  19. 19.               Interview Session 18, March 28, 2004
  20. 20.               Interview Session 19, March 30, 2004
  21. 21.               Interview Session 20, May 1, 2004
  22. 22.               Casual Conversation, May 10, 2004
  23. 23.               Casual Conversation, May13, 2004
  24. 24.               Casual Conversation, June 1, 2004
  25. 25.               Casual Conversation, June 17, 2004
  26. 26.               Casual Conversation, June 28, 2004
  27. 27.               [Excised] IT-Iraq, March 21, 2003

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 279

Edited by Joyce Battle
Assisted by Brendan McQuade

Posted – July 1, 2009

For more information contact:
Joyce Battle – 202/994-7145

About these ads

Responses

  1. You are really hitting all the bases and it’s paying off.

  2. [...] Saddam Hussein Talks to the FBI – Posted by: Puddy Dunne | July 1, 2009 Rate this:Share this:StumbleUponDiggEmailTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: