- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003


Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was shaken but contended he was his country’s chosen leader and repeatedly used profanity, several people who met him said yesterday.

Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, told CNN that Saddam was everything from banal to evil.

“The group wanted to see him directly,” Mr. Chalabi told the network, adding that he did not pose any questions to the deposed dictator during the half-hour meeting. “I didn’t find much point in talking to him.”

“It was clear that he had learned nothing and forgotten nothing,” Mr. Chalabi said.

“The most important sentiment that I had was that this man is so banal, that he is responsible for the murder of millions of Iraqis and others,” he said. “And he was sitting there — he was consumed by evil.”

Mr. Chalabi was one of four members of the IGC to meet with Saddam immediately after his capture more than a week ago, after months on the run.

CBS News reported that Saddam, formerly surrounded by opulence, now has a cell with walls decorated by the faces of 38 of his former officials who have been killed or captured. There are pictures of his two dead sons, Uday and Qusai. One picture is of President Bush.

“I found him very defiant, very unrepentant. He felt absolutely no remorse towards the crimes he has committed against the Iraqi people,” council member Muaffak al-Rubaie told CBS yesterday.

“Very unapologetic,” Mr. al-Rubaie said. “He was saying that … people have elected him to rule Iraq.”

CBS reported that the meeting lasted more than a half-hour as Saddam sat cross-legged on the floor.

“He looked to me like a man who had lost hope,” L. Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, told CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired last night.

“You could see it in his eyes, particularly. He was tired, obviously, but beyond that, underneath that, you could see resignation.”

In the hours between Saddam’s capture on Dec. 13 and an announcement the following day, Mr. Bremer took Iraqi officials to identify the man known to have doubles on his payroll.

“He looked like a prisoner. Although he was not manacled, he was free to move around. His arms and legs were not manacled. He was dressed in a traditional Arab pajama with a ski parka over it,” Mr. Bremer said.

“He doesn’t want to be seen, if you like, in this position,” Mr. al-Rubaie said. “There was an element of irritability. He was irritable, because he kept on changing his position and looking at one side and tried not to look at us.”

Mr. al-Rubaie confronted Saddam about mass graves filled with political opponents.

Saddam “turned around and said, ‘Did you ask their relatives, what they had done to these people? They were thieves, or they escaped from the battlefield,’” Mr. al-Rubaie said.

“When he gets cornered with a question and there was no answer, he looked at us and he looked away and was swearing,” Mr. al-Rubaie said. “And I left, but I overheard him. He started a barrage of foul language.”

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