July  
2009

Vol 9 - No. 1


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LETTER FROM U.S.A. 


 


Saddam Hussein 
at a pre-trial hearing in July 2004.

Confessions From 'Beyond the Grave' 
Deflate Bush Obsessions 

BY ERNEST COREA (IDN)

WASHINGTON D.C. - The theory held dear by assorted intelligence experts that Saddam Hussein protected himself against assassination by using "doubles" as front men is "movie magic, not reality". However, Saddam Hussein rarely used a phone, which can be an instrument of sudden death, and he regularly changed the places where he slept. Where does all this come from? Speculation? Analysis? Fiction? Actually, it comes from Saddam Hussein himself.

 

In a remarkable set of 20 structured interrogations and several informal interviews during the time he was in U.S. custody -- between his capture and his being handed over to Iraqi authorities -- Saddam Hussein went on the record with a number of statements that shed light on his personal beliefs and strategic motivations. His answers to direct questions contradicted much of the Bush Administrationís obsessions.

Saddam Hussein (known as High Value Detainee #1) was interviewed in Arabic by FBI agent George L. Piro. Formal interrogation took place in a military detention facility at Baghdad International Airport. Informal conversations were in his cell. Saddam Hussein was not waterboarded nor were any other illegal or coercive techniques used, Piro has said.

Declassified transcripts of the interrogations were obtained by a private research organization in Washington D.C., the National Security Archive, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

CONTEMPTUOUS OF POLITICS AND POLITICIANS

The interviews read more like a "stream of consciousness" discourse between two acquaintances than like a police log. They cover a wide range of topics and issues including politics, political history, security in the Middle East, Arab imperatives, international relations, religion and philosophy, and the UN. Israel, he claimed, is a threat to the entire Arab world, not only to Iraq.

He was contemptuous of politics and politicians -- surprising for a politician -- and he insisted: "If I wanted to be a politician, I could. But, I do not like politicians or politics." When it was pointed out to him that in the view of some observers he had played politics with the UN, he retorted: "We abided totally by all UN decisions."

Unlike most contemporary leaders almost anywhere in the world, Saddam Hussein wrote his own speeches. This was probably because he did not trust anybody on his staff to match his thoughts with compelling prose, and not because he enjoyed speech writing. He actually disliked the task.

He also disliked delivering speeches -- another surprising claim for somebody who was known to deliver long and sometimes rambling exhortations to a captive audience. Drafting a speech and delivering it, he said, gave him the feeling of sitting for an exam. So he often had his speeches read out by others such as newscasters.

Saddam Hussein disclosed that he was cautious about inter-personal communications. He communicated primarily through the use of trusted couriers, or he would personally meet government officials for consultation on key issues.

"IíLL LEAVE THIS FOR HISTORY."

At one point he shares with Piro a poem he had written in his cell. On an issue that must make sense to the FBI, Piro asks him whether he customarily travelled in a long motorcade. Saddam Husseinís enigmatic reply? "Iíll leave this for history."

He was obviously moved but not sentimental when talking about his sons. "Do not think I am getting upset when you mention my sons. I still think about them and the fact that they were martyred. They will be examples to everyone throughout the world." Both sons fought against Iran in the 1980s when they were "underage".

The late Iraqi president displays an almost encyclopedic knowledge of UN resolutions concerning Iraq, sometimes challenging Piro as to which specific resolution has greater force, legitimacy, and precedence than others. He displayed a sense of grievance bordering on anger with a tinge of petulance when claiming that the UN system was manipulated against him and Iraq.

Saddam Hussein flatly asserts that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction when President George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq on the ground that it possessed such weapons. Hussein pointed out somewhat wryly that in this U.S.-Iraq war, Britain was the "only ally" of the U.S.. "All other major countries, including France, China, Russia, and Germany, were against the war."

U.S. WAS NOT HIS ENEMY

Saddam Hussein said that the threat from Iran was the major factor as to why he did not allow UN inspectors to return to Iraq, when they could have verified his claim that Iraq had destroyed its stockpile of WMD. He believed that UN inspectors would have directly identified to the Iranians where to inflict maximum damage to Iraq.

Iran, he insisted, was his countryís real enemy, and it was bent on annexing southern Iraq. The U.S. was not his enemy, only a country whose policies he opposed. He was, in fact, interested in reaching a security agreement with the U.S.. He reiterated that he had wanted to have a relationship with the U.S. but was not given the chance.

He had never seen or met Osama bin Laden, had never worked with him, and did not share his beliefs or vision. He provided Piro with a brief historical account of conflicts between religion, specifically Islam, and historical rulers. He described himself as "a believer in God but not a zealot." He believed that religion and government should not mix. On a personal note, however, he was convinced that "God creates us, and only he decides when he is going to take us."

Iraqi newspapers were reported to have commended the murderous attacks of September 11, 2003 on American targets, and Saddam Hussein was asked what explanation he had for Iraq being the only country to applaud the attacks. He denied the charge. He personally wrote editorials against the attack, but also spoke of the causes which led men to commit those acts, he said.

PERSONAL LETTERS TO AMERICAN FRIENDS

The facts were never reviewed to determine what could create a level of hatred that made the attackers kill innocent people. He said as well that former foreign minister Tariq Aziz had written personal letters to American friends including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark denouncing the attacks.

Would the six-year war (up to now) have been avoided if the facts that have emerged from the FBI interrogation were known to the Bush Administration in 2003? Possibly not, because the Bush Administration already knew that Iraq did not possess WMD when it unleashed "shock and awe" on Iraq.

On February 14, 2003, Hans Blix, head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), in one of his last reports, addressed the Security Council as follows: "How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programmes? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared and destroyed."

So the facts did not really matter. As Richard N. Haas, president of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, writes in 'War of Necessity, War of Choice': "Ö.it is worth noting that the first instinct of the president was to push the bureaucracy to find a connection between Saddam and the (9/11) attacks. Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy secretary of defence, argued at the Camp David meeting convened on September 14 that the attack was too grand for al-Qaida to have accomplished on its own and that the U.S. should go after Iraq."

Wolfowitz and his co-conspirators were wrong, says Haas. The war was launched anyhow. Lives were disrupted. Blood was spilled. People died. The official tally of U.S. service personal killed is 4323 and, by one informal count, the number of civilians killed, most of them Iraqis, is 1,320,110. And over 2250 days after George W. Bush declared "mission accomplished" in Iraq, the war, in its different manifestations, has not yet ended. 
________________

The writer has served as Sri Lanka's ambassador to Canada, Cuba, Mexico, and the USA. He was Chairman of the Commonwealth's Select Committee on the media and development.

 

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