Surely some will herald this as final proof that Bill Clinton lied when he demonized and bombed the Iraqis for years, or when he linked Iraq with al Qaeda and later blew up the pharma plant in Khartoum. But this isn't about Clinton's lies or the old disco hit "Boogie to Baghdad". And OK, it's not about Bush's "lies". It's about Saddam's lies.
An actual reading of the documents shows how Kessler, Glenn is trying to spin. Why would Saddam decide to come clean with Piro? He figured he was talking to a high-level US official and was not the least bit afraid of torture or other harsh methods. He was a survivor; it's likely he had sights set on moving the trial to Hague so in that regard his truth-telling didn't extend to WMDs, even the ones we knew about.
When Piro asked Saddam about those known WMDs--the chem weapon attacks against the Kurds and Iranians, Saddam replied:
"I do not have an answer for that. I am not going to answer".He went on to say he wouldn't be 'cornered or caught on some technicality'. If Piro had a special relationship it didn't include Saddam incriminating himself in the war crimes area.
In this exchange Saddam appears ambivalent about a report that the head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, Tabir Habbash, met with international terrorist Abu Abbas in 2002 about staging attacks against Israel. Saddam's reply:
If Abbas carried out any attacks in Israel, it means we helped him. If he did not, we did not help him.Later he told Piro not to put words in his mouth, that he did not say he helped Abbas. This was after Piro told him that Habbush had given Abbas the money and attacks were carried out.
In another, Saddam claimed that Bush 41's vow to stop Iraq from invading Kuwait was what actually prompted him to invade Kuwait. In a voice that might have mirrored Baghdad Bob's, he said "This is the first time I have ever heard this" when confronted with atrocities committed by Iraqi troops against the Kuwaitis. This kind of flim-flam was common throughout the interviews.
Here's another interview where the Butcher waxes on about it "not being policy" to use chemical weapons against coalition forces during the Gulf War. In other words, Saddam decided not to.
The hits continue: "Hussein claimed that his position was that Iraq did not have WMD". Well, that does it. This after he was reminded of a speech given in 2000 where he said Iraq would not disarm until the region disarmed. Does the anti-Bush left really want to hang their hats on this guy?
WaPo Kessler wrote this:
Hussein noted that Iran's weapons capabilities had increased dramatically while Iraq's weapons "had been eliminated by the UN sanctions," and that eventually Iraq would have to reconstitute its weapons to deal with that threat if it could not reach a security agreement with the United States.The actual document went on to say:
"..Iraq's technical and scientific abilities exceeded others in the region".Jiminy, it sounds like Saddam might have been confirming Bush's charge that he might one day develop terrible weapons and had the scientists to git r done.
As to the AQ connection, if you read no other interview transcripts read this one. It actually confirms contacts between Farouk Hijazi and the two visits to Baghdad by Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, to which Saddam replied 'yes' when asked, then said they never cooperated. Another charge vindicated.
The Butcher even contradicted himself when asked why Iraq wouldn't cavort with AQ by first saying they (Iraq) were not an enemy of the United States then, when confronted with the old Arab saying 'the enemy of my enemy is my brother', changed his tune to say "Iraq considered itself at war with the United States". Of course they did--the Mother of All Battles.
Finally, the WaPo made clear the recurring theme of Saddam blaming Iran for nearly everything while downplaying their hate for the US, which is supported in the documents. But here's an example of the likely truthfulness of that meme. His son-in-law Hussein Kamel defected in 1995 and later told UN investigators, regarding the 1995 attack on a US military barracks in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, that:
He wants everybody to think it's the Iranians behind the attack. He is using them as a smoke screen, hoping to fool the world.And apparently it continues even after death.