Tag Archives: Saddam Hussein

What if the United States had captured Osama Bin Laden?

We can learn a bit from how they interrogated Saddam Hussein

During the interrogation of Saddam, Piro conducted only 20 formal interviews; most of their daily interactions were casual. They talked politics, history, sports, arts, the Middle East, women, and family. "For me, it was important just to get to know him," Piro says. "I wanted to be able to understand his thought processes. It was an investment for those 20 interviews."

The hundreds of pages of interview notes marked "high value detainee #1", declassified five years later, provide fascinating reading. The conversations ranged across all aspects of life in Iraq: Saddam’s rise to power, the Iraqi people and culture, the Iran/Iraq War of the 1980s, the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the power of the ruling Ba’ath Party, Iraq’s relationship with its neighbors, Saddam’s views of Osama bin Laden.

The men discussed war strategy and geopolitics. Piro listened to an intimate, previously untold history of Iraq offered by the man who, more than anyone else, had created the modern country. Saddam explained that he had lived in fear of US attacks; he’d used the telephone himself just twice since March 1990 and moved locations daily among a variety of settings—including his 20 palaces—to make it harder to target him.

Contrary to the beliefs of Western intelligence, Saddam claimed to have never used body doubles, feeling it was too hard to mimic another person. Perhaps of most immediate interest, Saddam told Piro that while the Iraqi regime had had some contact with Osama bin Laden, he felt the al-Qaeda leader was a fanatic and not to be trusted.

So what about those missing WMDs?

Saddam explained that it was important to national pride and national security that his neighbors believed Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction. "We destroyed them. We told you, by documents," he said to Piro in one interview. "By God, if I had such weapons, I would have used them in the fight against the United States."