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The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein
#1
They lied - we knew they lied - but here is more proof, if more proof is needed!


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, 10 years ago this week, on December 30th, 2006, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed. Hussein was toppled soon after the U.S. invasion began in 2003. U.S. President George W. Bush launched the invasion on the false premise that Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al-Qaeda. The invasion destabilized Iraq and the region, leaving over a million people dead. And the fighting continues in Iraq and Syria.
A stunning new book about the Iraq War has just come out from a perspective we have not yet heard from. It is written by John Nixon, the CIA analyst who interrogated Saddam Hussein after his capture 13 years ago. Nixon reveals that much of what the CIA believed they knew about Saddam Hussein at the time of the invasion was wrong. During his interrogation, Hussein revealed that by 2003 he had largely turned over power to his aides so he could concentrate on writing a novel. There was no program of weapons of mass destruction.
AMY GOODMAN: Saddam Hussein was also deeply critical of al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups inspired by Wahhabism. In fact, Hussein told Nixon that he felt the United States and Iraq were natural allies in the fight against extremism. During the interrogation, Saddam Hussein also had a warning for the United States about Iraq. He said, quote, "You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq. You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind," Saddam Hussein said.
Well, joining us now is former the CIA analyst, John Nixon, author of the new book, Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein.
I mean, what you write in this book is quite stunning. You are the first person that went to interrogate Saddam Hussein. You had studied him
JOHN NIXON: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: for years.
JOHN NIXON: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And whatyet what you found when you met him shocked you.
JOHN NIXON: Yes. Yes, you know, it's one thing to beto see somebody on a TV screen or a film or in pictures, but when you actually meet them up close and then you start talking to them, it's an entirely different thing. And, you know, instead of finding the "Butcher of Baghdad," I found myself talking to this aging Iraqi grandfather. And one of the things that really struck me was, in talking to him, he said to me, he said, "You know, I've been working on this novel." And the delegation of power was something that we at the CIA really hadn't been aware of. We still thought of Saddam as the master manipulator and someone who was always pulling the strings. But really, he had given that power, the day-to-day running of the country, to some of his more senior aides.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And set the scene for us. How were you chosen for this
JOHN NIXON: Sure.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: for this mission? And also, how did you carry it out? Who was in the room with you?
JOHN NIXON: Certainly.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what were the dynamics?
JOHN NIXON: Well, I had beenI had studied Saddam Hussein ever since joining the agency in 1998. And I think a lot of people knew me in the intelligence community as sort of a go-to person on Saddam. Now, when I waswent to Baghdad in 2003, I was asked to fill in for thewe had an HVT-1 analyst in the station, and their job was to work with the military in trying to locate him.
AMY GOODMAN: You speak Arabic?
JOHN NIXON: No, I do not. I mean, I have smattering oflittle bit here and there that I've picked up over time.
But anyway, weI replaced him and began working with the military. And I began to despair that we would never find him. And then, right around Thanksgiving time, things started to heat up. And then, into the first week of December, it became very clear we were going to find him. And the night of the capture, I was brought into the station chief's office and asked how would I identify him, and then I was asked to go out and identify him. And I told them that, you know, I would look for certain markings, certain tribal tattoos. And I was brought out there. You have to understand, the U.S. government was under a lot ofwell, we were under a lot of pressure from Washington to find him and also to verify it's him, because we didn't want to then turnsay we've caught him, and then find out it wasn't him. And there was also this persistent myth about body doubles, which were never really true to begin with. So, I went out there, and despite the fact that I was looking for these markings, I have to admit, the first time that I even laid eyes on him, I knew it was him.
And one of the interesting things about that first time was, you know, Saddam was sitting there with the military all around him, and he sort of acted like he was the host, that he was the person like everyhe came here every Saturday night and had an audience with people, and that we were just guests. And, you know, we had a verya sort of a confrontational interrogation that night, because it was just, again, about identifying him, although, in my head, it was clear. After that, we hadwe began debriefing him. And that's whenone of the surprising things about Saddam was he was one of the most charismatic individuals I have ever met in my life. I mean, when he walked in a roomeven in his diminished status as a prisoner, when he walked in a room, you could feel a change. In the beginning, he was very smart, very polite, very nice, self-deprecating in his humor. And
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And did you conduct most of these interviews through an interpreter, or did he speak English?
JOHN NIXON: Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, we hadin the room, it was myself, a polygrapher, an interpreter provided by the Army, and Saddam.
AMY GOODMAN: A polygrapher, meaning he was always taking a polygraph?
JOHN NIXON: No, no. He was a polygrapher, but he also served as a sort of a facilitator, as a person who would sort of start the conversation off. And in the beginning, it was verywe weren't sure if Saddam was going to cooperate, and we had really no way to kind of get him to cooperate. So we appealed to his vanity, and we also appealed to his sense of history. And we said to him, "You know, this is your opportunity to set the record straight. This is your opportunity to take all the lies that have been said about you, and what you say will be read by the highest levels of the government," meaning the president.
AMY GOODMAN: What did he say about weapons of mass destruction?
JOHN NIXON: He said he stopped his program years ago. And, you know, one of the things with Saddam was he was also one of the most suspicious people I've ever met, and he always answered questions with questions of his own. And one of the problems from that was, when we would ask about weapons of mass destruction, he would say, "Oh, well, I stopped that in 1989." And then you would say, "But, Saddam, right up into the first Gulf War, we found that you had a program that was close to being near completion." He said, "Oh, well, yes, yes. But after the Gulf War, I stopped it." And then we would say, "Well, what about 1995, when Hussein Kamel defected, and you showed us all those documents that were on his chicken farm?" He said, "Oh, of course, of course. But after '95." So, you were never sure sometimes what he was saying was the truth or not. But based on talking to him, talking to a number of his advisers, and all of the captured documentation and the fact that we never found anything, I came to the conclusion that he was not going to start another program.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you also asked him about chemical weapons being used on his own people.
JOHN NIXON: Yes.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you were surprised and later confirmed what he said.
JOHN NIXON: Yes, I did. That was shocking, because one of theone of the arguments made for the war was that he had used weapons of mass destruction on his people. And when I talked to himand he got very upset, probably the angriest he ever got with me during my time with him. He said that he did not order weapons tochemical weapons to be used in Halabja against the Kurds. I have to admit, I didn't believe him at the time. When I went back to Washington, I started looking into this a lot more deeply. I started reading some of the debriefings of other senior government aides. They corroborated that story. And then we found documentation from the Iraqis that also corroborated that. It was a battlefield decision made by an Iraqi commander at the scene. And Saddam actually was angry at the commander for having made that decision, largely because the use of the chemical weapons was in PUK territory. They were allied with Iran. And he was afraid that Iran would make hay out of this with the international media.
AMY GOODMAN: Saddam Hussein said the U.S. and Iraq would be allies in the fight against extremism and al-Qaeda.
JOHN NIXON: Yes. Well, he thought we were natural allies in this. And he thought that 9/11 was going to bring the United States and Iraq closer together. And, you know, heat one point he said to me, he said, "Didn't you read the letter that I sent, you know, that I sent to you?" And I said, "What letter are you talking about?" He said, "The letter I gave to Tariq Aziz. Didn't you read it?" And then I said, "Well, I think I'veyou sent a couple of letters." And he said, "Well, this one went to Ramsey Clark. You know, didn't you read it?" And then I told him that, you know, a lot of people in the media tend to dispel what Ramsey Clark says, and the fact that it was coming from you may have been even harder for people to believe. Saddam Hussein did not have a good understanding of America. He didn't have a good understanding of international relations.
AMY GOODMAN: Before we wrap up, though we'll do Part 2
JOHN NIXON: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: and post it online, the response of the CIA in the information that you got? The response of President Bush?
JOHN NIXON: Yeah. All they really wanted to know about was WMD. And when wewhen we didn't have the answer that they wanted, they kind of lost interest. And that's all it was about, I think. And it was very disappointing and disillusioning, because we could have learned a great deal more from Saddam and about his country. And I felt I did, when I was talking to him.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, this undercut President Bush's justification for this war.
JOHN NIXON: Yeah, yes, absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: So they just didn't release or work with this information.
JOHN NIXON: Right. It's almost like, in January of 2004, President Bush's attitude was, you know, "I'm done with Iraq. Let's move on. You know, this is a solved problem."
AMY GOODMAN: Well, clearly, it isn't, 10 years
JOHN NIXON: No.
AMY GOODMAN: More than 10 years later. We're going to do Part 2 of this conversation and post it at democracynow.org.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#2
I haven't checked Ramsey Clarke's website for ages but it is interesting that Saddam wrote to him thinking it would get to the President. I wonder if it ever did?
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#3
Magda Hassan Wrote:I haven't checked Ramsey Clarke's website for ages but it is interesting that Saddam wrote to him thinking it would get to the President. I wonder if it ever did?

I believe it did not. Clark was once a high 'insider' figure in an earlier Administration, but by the time Saddam had written to Clark, he was considered an beyond-the-pale outsider for his anti-war stances, etc.

Part II of this is not transcribed, but can be viewed here [and I think it is good - better than the part above!]: https://www.democracynow.org/2016/12/28/...als_saddam
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#4
It was more than revealing to me that John Nixon was the go to man for Saddam, but didn't speak Arabic. Very curious indeed.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
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#5
Yes, curious. Do you know anything about his other work in CIA? Don't suppose their is a transcript of the interrogation? :Point:

Edit: To be fair I don't think Arabic was ever a strong point in any of the USA agencies. There was a big shortage of interpreters after 911 when they scrambled to find any old Arab speaker to assist.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#6
Magda Hassan Wrote:Yes, curious. Do you know anything about his other work in CIA? Don't suppose their is a transcript of the interrogation? :Point:

Edit: To be fair I don't think Arabic was ever a strong point in any of the USA agencies. There was a big shortage of interpreters after 911 when they scrambled to find any old Arab speaker to assist.

It used to take intelligence to be in intelligence. Now all it takes, it seems, is a willingness to toe the party line and lie like a trooper.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
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#7
David Guyatt Wrote:
Magda Hassan Wrote:Yes, curious. Do you know anything about his other work in CIA? Don't suppose their is a transcript of the interrogation? :Point:

Edit: To be fair I don't think Arabic was ever a strong point in any of the USA agencies. There was a big shortage of interpreters after 911 when they scrambled to find any old Arab speaker to assist.

It used to take intelligence to be in intelligence. Now all it takes, it seems, is a willingness to toe the party line and lie like a trooper.

It is a very bad indictment of the state of the 'art' of intelligence gathering that those in the field of the Middle East don't HAVE to speak/read Arabic!..but apparently that is how it is in the CIA. That said, this high level agent [former he says] has now really turned on the Agency and thinks Bush, Chaney, Rumsfeld, et al. and their war in Iraq was a total mistake and has set back that Nation for decades - perhaps forever. He admits it was based on lies - before/during/after. Look at segment II if you have not yet.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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