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January 29, 2008
Saddam and 60 Minutes
Laurie Mylroie critiques the 60 Minute interview with Saddam's interrogator Piro, reminds the memory challenged of facts which contradict Saddam's self-serving explanation of what happened to Iraq's WMDs, and concludes:
Ronald Kessler also interviewed Piro, and Kessler's latest book, The Terrorist Watch, includes three important points absent from the 60 Minutes interview. First, "Saddam was very smart -- a lot smarter than we gave him credit for in the West," Piro told Kessler. Second, "after Desert Storm [the 1991 war], Saddam considered himself to be at war with the United States," Piro explained. Finally, Saddam's foremost concern was his legacy. Before OIF began, Saddam was offered a comfortable exile in Saudi Arabia, but Saddam told Piro "he cared more about what people would think of him in five hundred or a thousand years than they did that day."
These observations knock down two views embraced by Middle East experts after the 1991 war that helped buttress Bill Clinton's do-nothing policy toward Iraq -- that Saddam was "stupid" and that his foremost concern was his own survival and the survival of his regime. Taken together, Piro's three observations suggest that sometime in the future, when Operation Iraqi Freedom is no longer a political football, Americans will likely learn that Saddam was indeed a major threat and that he was not idle in the 12 years between the end of the 1991 war and the start of the second war.