Butcher of Baghdad: Whiskey, Cigars, and Tears


An interesting perspective on Saddam Hussein…..

FBI Special Agent George Piro is featured in a new book titled “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack.”   The book is written by journalist Ronald Kessler. 

Agent Piro has a unique perspective on Saddam Hussein because he was tasked with sitting with Hussein for up to 7 hours a day for eight months.  As this article describes, Piro kind of befriended Hussein in order to extract confessions.

 He was successful in extracting those confessions:

The “Butcher of Baghdad” also confessed he ordered Kurdish civilians gassed and slaughtered thousands more, their remains left in mass graves.

It is this other confession that is most interesting to me:

Until 9/11, Saddam thought UN sanctions would go away and he could make a nuclear bomb. His prewar weapons of mass destruction deceptions were a ruse to convince Iran – whom he feared – that he had an arsenal.

In terms of the reasons we went to war, I have mixed feeling about that confession.  He either was a master at deception and had not just Iran, but the whole world, convinced he had and was pursuing more weapons of mass destruction.   I think this is possible.  He was able to deceive the people of Iraq (mostly with fear) for years.  (Terrorize, not deceive, may be the better description here, though).

On the other hand, he obviously had weapons of mass destruction at one time.  It was not all about deception.  He confessed to using those weapons on the Kurds.   So I still believe that he had weapons of mass destruction.  Otherwise, why would he use them and then not pursue maintaining his stock or developing more?  It doesn’t make sense that he did not have these weapons at the time of UN sanctions earlier in this decade.  Where those weapons are now is certainly a matter of great debate.  So it seems that it, at least partially, makes valid some justification for going to war. 

In addition, Saddam himself seems to confess that he had all intentions (at least until 9/11/01) of producing nuclear weapons.   Seems like a great reason to force him out to me…..sort of a mini-version of what we are facing with Iran today….. 

He was a dangerous man and a thug and I am glad we forced him out and found him.  I have to admit, though, that parts of what Piro was able to gather from his 8 months with Hussein doesn’t fit the profile I had of him in my head:

……Saddam trusted Piro more than his own monstrous sons Uday and Qusay, for whom he had little love before G.I.s gunned them down.

…….”When we were saying bye, he (Saddam)  started to tear up,” Piro recalled…..

….He admired Americans, particularly ex-Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan – but loathed the two Bushes he fought wars with.

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