- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

From combined dispatches

Although Saddam Hussein gave himself up without a fight, he has been defiant in his first interrogation sessions.

While the former dictator “clearly was compliant or resigned” when captured by troops, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told CBS News yesterday, “he has not been cooperative in terms of talking or anything like that.”

A U.S. intelligence official in Iraq who read the transcript of the initial interrogation report taken during the first questioning session told Time magazine that Saddam has “not been very cooperative.”

In the transcript, according to the official who paraphrased Saddam’s words for Time, the former dictator repeats his prewar denials that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

“No, of course not,” he replied, according to the official. “The U.S. dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us.”

The interrogator continued along this line, said the official, asking: “if you had no weapons of mass destruction, then why not let the U.N. inspectors into your facilities?” Saddam’s reply: “We didn’t want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy.”

The transcript also shows Saddam ducking direct answers and occupying the time with “Saddam rhetoric-type stuff.”

When asked “How are you?” said the official, Saddam responded, “I am sad because my people are in bondage.” When offered a glass of water by his interrogators, Saddam replied, “If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?”

The interrogators also asked Saddam whether he knew about the location of Capt. Scott Speicher, a U.S. pilot who went missing during the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

“No,” replied the former dictator. “We have never kept any prisoners. I have never known what happened.”

The U.S. intelligence official confirmed to Time that operatives found a briefcase with Saddam that contained a letter from a guerrilla leader in Baghdad. Contained in the message, the official said, were the minutes from a meeting of a number of resistance leaders who came together in the capital.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. officials said Saddam’s interrogators also are focusing on the former dictator’s ties to the guerrilla war, pressing him for intelligence about impending attacks and the locations of resistance leaders.

Their immediate hope is that he will have a wealth of knowledge on the insurgency against the U.S.-led occupation force and its Iraqi allies, officials told the Associated Press.

It is a race against the clock. His information grows more outdated by the hour, and other leaders from his toppled government can move or take other steps to avoid capture.

U.S. officials want to know the role and whereabouts of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. He is the ex-Revolutionary Command Council vice chairman and longtime Saddam confidant whose family and loyalists are believed to be helping the insurgency.

Officials said there was little initial evidence that Saddam had operational control of the resistance. Officials announced finding no communications equipment, maps or other evidence of a guerrilla command center at his hiding place.

The success of the interrogation depends on the skills and methods of the interrogators, who must divine aspects of Saddam’s psychology and figure out the best way to keep him talking. Interrogators might initially appeal to him by simply making him comfortable, said Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief.

“The guy’s been hiding out for eight months. He must be completely depressed. Look at the way the guy’s living. He was in palaces. Now he’s living in a hole,” he said.


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