Ten years after Saddam Hussain was captured by a Special Forces team and supposedly brought to justice for allegedly having weapons of mass destruction, the CIA agent who interrogated him now comes forward with details about the interrogation which has never been revealed.
John Nixon claims he spend countless hours grilling the Iraqi leader to the point where the agent said he grew exhausted.
According to Nixon, he had been in Iraq eight weeks looking for leads that would take him and his team to Saddam and his henchmen when he suddenly was summoned by the CIA’s executive director Buzzy Krongard.
About nine months had gone by trying to bring the down Saddams regime but yet there was no sign the man himself would turn up. But persistent paid off, not too far from where Saddam’s home was located in Tikrit, soldiers conducting a search in a farm came across a bearded man hiding in a small underground shelter.
Nixon claims his superiors were concerned with how he going to make a positive identification. He recalls telling them about Saddams tribal tattoos located on his right hand and wrist, the scar on his left leg which was caused by a bullet wound, and the fact that Saddam’s lower lip was lopsided, information he had gathered from reviewing video tapes of the elusive Saddam.
“We need to make sure this is Saddam and not one of those body double,” Krongarz interjected.
The CIA analyst then put several questions together that only the real Saddam would know the answer to.
Saddam was flown to Baghdad airport that same night by US Armed Forces and the identification process was conducted there.
Nixon recalls walking into the interrogation room where Saddam was sitting on a metal chair, dressed in a white dishdasha robe and a blue windbreaker looking defiant even though he knew death awaited him.
“I have some questions I’d like to ask you, and you are to answer them truthfully. Do you understand? The agent asked Saddam through a translator.
The bearded man in front of him nodded his head yes.
” When was the last time you saw your son’s alive?,” the agent asked.
“Who are you guys? Are you military intelligence? Mukhabarat [civilian intelligence]? Answer me. Identify yourselves!,” responded an angry Saddam.
The CIA analyst immediately noticed the tribal tattoos in front of him and how his mouth was lopsided. Finding out whether the person in front of him also had a bullet wound seemed impossible and Saddam was not cooperating. He only responded to answer he felt like answering to.
“Why don’t you ask me about politics? You could learn a lot from me,” he shouted.
Saddam at some point lifted up his dishdasha showing the injury done to his leg by US troops. Nixon noticed a scar on his left leg and asked if it had been a bullet wound and he replied that it had. Nixon now knew they had the right guy.
As Nixon continued to grill a bearded Saddam concerning the weapon of mass destruction, Saddam appeared more irritated by the line of questions then anything else, the agent said
“You found a traitor who led you to Saddam Hussein. Isn’t there one traitor who can tell you where the WMD’s are?,” an angry Saddam replied.
“Iraq is not a terrorist nation. We did not have a relationship with bin Laden, and did not have weapons of mass destruction…and we’re not a threat to our neighbors. But the American President [George W Bush] said Iraq wanted to attack his daddy and said we had ‘weapons of mass destruction.’
According to Nixon, Saddam also stated that he never intended to use weapon of mass destruction on US Armed Forces stationed in Saudi Arabia.
“We never thought about using weapons of mass destruction. It was not discussed. Use chemical weapons against the world? Is there anyone with full faculties who would do this? Who would use these weapons when they had not been used against us?”
The agent said he was taken aback by Saddam’s response and was left wondering if America had made a mistake. But how?
The 6ft 1in figure sitting in the metal chair seemed to have an answer.
“The spirit of listening and understanding was not there- I don’t exclude myself from this blame,” stated Saddam.
As the interrogation continued, Nixon says he realized that the profile the CIA had of Saddam Hussein on file was completely wrong. He was not a chronic liar as presumed. And he did not rule with an iron fist as suggested. In fact Saddam had no idea what his government was doing. Saddam was actually blindsided by the American attack on Iraq.
Saddam also denied any involvement with 9/11. He pointed out that the individuals involved in the 9/11 attack were not from Iraq but we’re from Saudi Arabia and Egyptian.
“What countries did they come from? Saudi Arabia. And this Muhammad Atta, was he an Iraqi? No. He was Egyptian. Why do you think I was involved in the attaks?”
Sadddam was eventually tried for his alleged crimes and executed in 2006.
George W. Bush eventually summoned Nixon to the White House for a briefing on the Saddam interrogation. Nixon claims Bush wanted to know the type of person Saddam had been.
The interrogator told President Bush Saddam had been a sarcastic, arrogant and a sadistic, which seemed to please Bush.
As the agent left the Oval Office, Bush allegedly asked him if Saddam hadn’t really tell him where he had put those vial of anthrax and them laughed.