Why Saddam Hussein lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
The former dictator was afraid of looking weak to Iran, according to newly declassified interviews he had with an FBI agent.
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According to CBS, Piro listened to Hussein read poetry he’d written – a daily exercise for the former dictator, who had always carefully carved out time to read fiction when he was running Iraq. He gave Hussein the baby wipes the "clean freak" ruler loved to use to clean his cell and wipe off fresh fruit. The FBI agent celebrated Hussein’s birthday with cookies from his mother. He gave Hussein flower seeds, which he cultivated in a tiny garden with his bare hands. Slowly, the relationship began to yield fruit.Skip to next paragraph
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When Piro gave a lengthy interview to CBS’s 60 minutes in January 2008, his boss – FBI Assistant Director Joe Persichini – called the interviews with Hussein “one of the top accomplishments of our agency in the last 100 years.”
The FBI was asked, it said in statement, to brief Hussein because of the agency’s “longstanding work in gathering statements for court.”
Excerpts from the transcripts
Piro, a former California policeman who earned his college degree in night school in order to be eligible for the FBI, often took issue with Hussein’s assertions.
Hussein denied having any WMD. Piro countered, pointing out that US intelligence had gathered intelligence to the contrary and asking if WMDs could have been developed without his knowledge:
Hussein said no, and claimed on several occasions he held meetings with all of his ministers and asked them specifically if Iraq had WMD that he was unaware of.
All of the ministers said no.
Hussein also claimed that if UN sanctions had been lifted, he would have sought a security agreement with the US. Piro pointed out that given the relationship of the two countries, such an agreement may have not been an immediate option, and Iraq “would have needed to reconstitute its own weapons program in response.” Hussein replied that “Iraq would have done what was necessary and agreed that Iraq’s technical and scientific abilities exceeded others in the region.
On other points, Hussein’s statements received less criticism – particularly on Iran. The former dictator’s was worried not only about the immediate threat from Iran, but its advancing expertise:
Hussein further stated that Iran’s weapons capabilities have increased dramatically, while Iraq’s have been eliminated by the UN sanctions. The effects of this will be seen and felt in the future, as Iran’s weapons capabilities will be a greater threat to Iraq and the region in the future.