How the FBI Broke Saddam
James Gordon Meek has a very interesting two-part story on how FBI Special Agent George Piro successfully interrogated Saddam Hussein. Shockingly, it does not involve waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, nudity, or German shephards.
The FBI prides itself on “rapport-based” interrogations that have a high success rate for yielding confessions from the likes of 1993 World trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and CIA headquarters killer Mir Aimal Kasi. There was no “ticking bomb” scenario with Saddam – just inherent political pressure – so the interrogation proceeded carefully and cautiously over months.
The strategy involved executing a subtle emotional attack, digging out Saddam’s soft spots and exploiting them. Prick his ego.
Saddam had revealed little, so far – and neither had Piro – other than stating he remained in Baghdad until the day before his capital fell to American-led forces in April 2003. He said he instructed his henchmen in a final meeting, “We will struggle in secret.” After fleeing Baghdad, he gradually dispersed his bodyguards one by one to avoid drawing Coalition forces’ attention. Saddam had evaded capture for nine months, until U.S. viceroy Paul Bremer made his famous exultation in December 2003: “Ladies and gentleman, we got him!”
Piro asked if Saddam ever used body doubles, as was widely believed. “No, of course not,” he scoffed. “This is movie magic, not reality.”
But as the fourth interrogation began on Feb. 13, Saddam wanted answers from Piro.
“Let me ask a direct question. I want to ask where … has the information been going? For our relationship to remain clear, I want to know,” he demanded. Piro replied that he was a “representative of the U.S. Government” and told Saddam many U.S. officials saw his reports, and that readership “may include the President of the United States.” Saddam seemed pleased, commenting that he did “not mind” if the interviews were published.
Much more of Part 2 at the link. See Part 1 here.
Via Meek’s Counterterrorism Blog post.