Saddam’s fatal bluff

On Sunday, 60 Minutes will be sharing an interview with an FBI agent assigned to interrogate Saddam Hussein, the late tryrant of Iraq, while he was in the custody of American military forces prior to his execution:
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein kept up the illusion that he had weapons of mass destruction before 2003 because he did not think the United States would invade, an FBI agent who questioned him said.

In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" to be broadcast on Sunday, FBI agent George Piro describes conversations with Saddam in the months after his capture in December 2003.

Piro said Saddam, who was hanged from crimes against humanity in December 2006, wanted to maintain the image of a strong Iraq to deter Iran, its historic enemy, from hostile action.

"He told me he initially miscalculated ... President (George W.) Bush's intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998... a four-day aerial attack," Piro said.

Given the poor state of Iraq’s military, which was effectively wiped out in less than two weeks of combat engagement with five divisions of American and British forces, it is hard to envision them withstanding an brute-force invasion by two or three hundred thousand Iranians, no matter how poorly trained or equipped they might be.

With options like these, it is understandable that Saddam would want to bluff his neighbors into overestimating the combat effectiveness of Iraq’s military. Otherwise, the noose around his neck may well would have been wielded by Iranians, instead of fellow Iraqis. He just never figured that President Bush was the kind of man who would actually mean what he/she said - until it was too late.

Piro’s narrative in the interview bears warning that while Iraq’s WMD program had not been restarted, it was not for the lack of willpower, or future intentions:

The Iraqi leader had also intended to restart the weapons program and had the means to do it.

"He still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there," Piro said. "He wanted ... to reconstitute his entire WMD program."

This confirms the essential argument that prompted the invasion – the threat posed by Hussein’s regime was real. It was just a question of when.

There is no small irony in how Saddam, in an effort to avoid his downfall, brought it about. Those who criticize the intelligence shortcomings that led to the United States invasion should have the intellectual honesty to recognize the impact that Saddam’s deception had over the decision to invade in 2003.

But that’s not likely, because the real agenda of many of Bush’s critics is not to objectively question the war effort, but rather to use whatever tools and issues they can to criticize him.

Even if the truth, and our troops, get in their way.

4 Response to "Saddam’s fatal bluff"

  1. Mike Reino 26/1/08 00:29
    Is this the guy that kept getting Saddam the Doritos he loved so much? It's stunning to think that Saddam didn't have the sense to recognize that we were coming. Everyone here knew, so he could have avoided it at the last minute. His theory to bluff the US to avoid fighting Iran is like trying to avoid getting your ass kicked by fighting the biggest kid in school.
  2. out of here moye 26/1/08 12:29
    I am still a Bush man. He made the right decision. I only wished he would had nuked them.
  3. Speaker's Mafia 27/1/08 04:05
    Saddam reminds us that the most arrogant man never sees his own hit coming. Sure, they might plan for it. But, they never think it will happen. Then, boom, some made guy's son has the guns and he gets your ass.

    Tis the world we live in. Saddam should have known better. I have no pity for him. He ran a ruthless crew and he and his crew should have known one day that pappy's son would get even for trying to hit Pappy one day in Kuwait.

    You don't just go after a don and think their ain't consequences.
  4. west_rhino 28/1/08 12:24
    arrogantly spoken...

    Absent additional analsysis, the lighter bits of raw intel that Piro was allowed to disclose, for a CBS that still wants to hang the counter to the current Jihad on searching for non-existant WMDs as much as they'd like to paint Clinton's impeachment on puritanical Republican ethics, this doesn't have the glaring forgery of Bush service records.

    On the other hand, Sammy blew "Mr. George" some smoke. It wasn't Iraqi baby milk that was spirited off to the Bekaa valley shortly before the invasion of Iraq. In a little game of control, hope for the WMDs to be used by someone for retribution. Asian patience for revenge befits the Klingon proverb, though the dipping sauces may differ.

    Too many other sources, too convenient for... oh that's right Fox is fair and balanced, this was on CBS.

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