Friday, July 3, 2009

Interrogation, Punishment and Saddam (part 2)

Regular readers may remember my post from January 2008 regarding FBI agent George Piro, who interrogated Saddam Hussein after his capture. Further classified details of those interrogations have been released and paint an even more disturbing picture of WMD, the alleged Iran-al-Qaeda connection, and why, exactly, we went into Iraq in the first place.

Hussein Pointed to Iranian Threat:

Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, according to declassified accounts of the interviews released yesterday. The former Iraqi president also denounced Osama bin Laden as "a zealot" and said he had no dealings with al-Qaeda.

Hussein, in fact, said he felt so vulnerable to the perceived threat from "fanatic" leaders in Tehran that he would have been prepared to seek a "security agreement with the United States to protect [Iraq] from threats in the region."

Former president George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq six years ago on the grounds that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to international security. Administration officials at the time also strongly suggested Iraq had significant links to al-Qaeda, which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
We've known for some time all the "mushroom cloud" rhetoric was just "rolling out a new product" babble from the Bush administration. And we've also known for some time there was no 9/11 al-Qaeda connection to Iraq. But Hussein's confessions certainly re-cast the light on the ongoing debate over whether the U.S. public was purposely misled into war, or whether our intelligence agencies failed on a catastrophic level.

Hussein's fear of Iran, which he said he considered a greater threat than the United States, featured prominently in the discussion about weapons of mass destruction. Iran and Iraq had fought a grinding eight-year war in the 1980s, and Hussein said he was convinced that Iran was trying to annex southern Iraq -- which is largely Shiite. "Hussein viewed the other countries in the Middle East as weak and could not defend themselves or Iraq from an attack from Iran," Piro recounted in his summary of a June 11, 2004, conversation.

"The threat from Iran was the major factor as to why he did not allow the return of UN inspectors," Piro wrote. "Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq's weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq."

Hussein, who was often defiant and boastful during the interviews, at one point wistfully acknowledged that he should have permitted the United Nations to witness the destruction of Iraq's weapons stockpile after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Probably his last thought on the way to the gallows.

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