For those who missed 60 Minutes last night, check out the fascinating interview with FBI Agent George Piro, lead interrogator of Saddam Hussein.
“He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ’90s. And those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq,” Piro says. “So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk, why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?” [60 Minutes reporter Steve] Pelley asks.
“It was very important for him to project that because that was what kept him, in his mind, in power. That capability kept the Iranians away. It kept them from reinvading Iraq,” Piro says.
Before his wars with America, Saddam had fought a ruinous eight year war with Iran and it was Iran he still feared the most. “He believed that he couldn’t survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?” Pelley asks. “Absolutely,” Piro says.
“As the U.S. marched toward war and we began massing troops on his border, why didn’t he stop it then? And say, ‘Look, I have no weapons of mass destruction.’ I mean, how could he have wanted his country to be invaded?” Pelley asks.
“He didn’t. But he told me he initially miscalculated President Bush. And President Bush’s intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998 under Operation Desert Fox. Which was a four-day aerial attack. So you expected that initially,” Piro says.
Piro says Saddam expected some kind of an air campaign and that he could he survive that. “He survived that once. And then he was willing to accept that type of attack. That type of damage,” he says.
“Saddam didn’t believe that the United States would invade,” Pelley remarks. “Not initially, no,” Piro says.
What was Saddam’s opinion of Osama Bin Laden? “He considered him to be a fanatic. And as such was very wary of him. He told me, ‘You can’t really trust fanatics,’” Piro says.
“Didn’t think of Bin Laden as an ally in his effort against the United States in this war against the United States?” Pelley asks.
“No. No. He didn’t wanna be seen with Bin Laden. And didn’t want to associate with Bin Laden,” Piro explains. Piro says Saddam thought that Bin Laden was a threat to him and his regime.
Check out the rest of the story, along with video, right here.