'I'll tell you everything if you give me a muffin'
When he's not writing poetry or weeding the prison garden, Saddam Hussein is being interrogated about Iraq's WMD programmes. Brian Sack eavesdrops as the former dictator keeps the United States' elite inquisitors at bay
Thursday 29 July 2004
Interrogation commenced: 0735 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0735 hours
Colonel Beckwith and I decided to play Good Cop/Bad Cop again. I came into the room as Bad Cop and yelled at SH. He immediately laughed at me because last week when I came in I was Good Cop and gave him a sandwich. I tried to play it off that I had some heartburn and was still Good Cop but "just a little cranky". Colonel Beckwith tried to cover for me by entering the room as Bad Cop and yelling, but that didn't seem to work either. SH muttered something but wouldn't say what.
Interrogation terminated: 0749 hours
Interrogation commenced: 2000 hours
Gave SH a Paddington Bear doll we named "Paddington al-Dubhe". We told him the story and suggested that sometimes it's nice to have a special friend to tell your deepest secrets to when interrogators aren't around. SH said it was very sad that someone would abandon a bear in a train station, but he changed his opinion when he tore the head off and found the microphone.
Interrogation terminated: 2008 hours
Interrogation commenced: 1430 hours
I tried to break the will of SH by showing him an Iraqi newspaper editorial calling for his trial and punishment. SH told me that our Psychological Operations folk obviously printed a fake newspaper. I told him that I bought the paper at an off-base coffee house. He insisted it was a fake. I told him I crossed my heart. He said he did not believe me. I asked what I needed to do to prove that it was a real newspaper, and he suggested taking him to the off-base coffee house to see it first-hand (and could he have a muffin while there?). I asked, but Gen Farley said absolutely no way. SH didn't say anything else aside from asking how much my PsyOps newspaper subscription cost and if there were any PsyOps coupons in it. I asked where the WMD were and he suggested I look in my copy of PsyOps Weekly.
Interrogation terminated: 1540 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0330 hours
Woke SH quite early to catch him off-guard and groggy. I asked, "What's your first name?" and he said, "Saddam." Again I asked, "What's your first name?" and he said, "Saddam." I kept asking, "What's your first name?" and he kept saying, "Saddam." Once I had a rhythm going, I asked, "Where are the WMD?" He said, "Saddam."
Interrogation terminated: 0338 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0700 hours
Today I tried the "respect" technique. I told SH that he was a good detainee and he seemed like a nice enough guy who did a good job running the country. He asked why we fired him if he did such a good job. I said it was probably because he was so good that someone else deserved a turn. He said that made no sense. I said maybe he was hogging it a little. He asked why that was a problem if he was doing such a good job. I said sometimes he got naughty and did not nice things to people. He asked why I would say he was doing a good job if he was so naughty. I said I didn't know. He asked if I was trying the "respect" technique. I said yes.
Interrogation terminated: 0751 hours
Interrogation commenced: 2210 hours
I played chess with SH, who is not too bad a player. At one point, my bishop took his rook. I told him that in the US when you lose your rook to a bishop it is customary to divulge a little personal secret, like maybe where the WMD are. He said we weren't in the US, then he took my pawn with the horse piece.
Interrogation terminated: 0122 hours
Interrogation commenced: 1021 hours
After working the "friend" approach for a while I felt like we'd made a breakthrough. SH said if he ever told anyone about the location of the WMD, it would be me. He said that was because he considered me his best friend. I said I considered him my best friend too, and he should tell me where the WMD are. He said he wouldn't dare because someone might pretend to be my friend just to get such infor- mation from me, and that he couldn't bear to see his best friend get used that way.
Interrogation terminated: 1108 hours
Interrogation commenced: 2230 hours
I told SH that we would be paid a visit by Baghdad's longest-running improvisational comedy troupe, and that they often ask for audience suggestions. I had one of the "players" ask SH for the name of something you'd return to a department store. SH said "wrench". They did a quick scene about returning a wrench, and then another "player" asked for a geographic location where one might hide WMDs. SH was quiet for a long time, so I suggested Wal-Mart.
Interrogation terminated: 2345 hours
Interrogation commenced: 1241 hours
After lunch, SH informed us he was willing to talk. Colonel Beckwith and I sat down with him. He spoke for quite some time and answered every question fully. We believe we have made great progress and we are researching the data.
Interrogation terminated: 1551 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0940 hours
Colonel Beckwith and I told SH that we didn't think it was particularly funny that he had us looking for "Monkey Valley" and the "Camel Ass Testing Facility" when it turned out there were no such locations. Also, we told him we were unable to verify the existence of Mohammad Yomama and we do not believe his claims of having built an "Infidel Ray". We said as a result of our disappointment, we would be denying his TV access. He said TV sucks anyway because they don't sing about him anymore.
Interrogation terminated: 1006 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0250 hours
I roused SH from his slumbers and told him Tariq Aziz was on the phone and wanted to know where the VX gas was. Didn't bite.
Interrogation terminated: 0251 hours
Interrogation commenced: 1122 hours
Col Beckwith and I told SH that next Monday was "International Torture Day" which celebrates torture by removing Geneva Convention restrictions for 24 hours. We hinted that we were excited because we had new probes and thumb screws we wanted to test out. SH told us the fake holiday idea was lame and asked us what we wanted for Kwanzaa.
Interrogation terminated: 1139 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0915 hours
Col Beckwith tried the "shame" approach and reminded SH that after all the high-and-mighty tough- guy posturing, he'd ultimately been discovered cowering in a hole. SH said that yes, he was a little embarrassed about that. He told us a story about a great man who suffered shame and humiliation, and how that man was constantly trying to figure out a good way to get back at the people who embarrassed him. The story was about five hours long and ended with the man concluding that the best way to get back at those people for humiliating him was to waste their time by telling them a long story that went nowhere.
Interrogation terminated: 1419 hours
Interrogation commenced: 2020 hours
While playing Risk, SH hoarded all his troops in Australia as he always does. I told him he should try a different strategy - like maybe putting them in the Middle East or Asia and he said no because they're impossible to defend. He said he'd tell me where the WMD were if I didn't station too many troops in Brazil, so I didn't. He then invaded Brazil and it wasn't too long before all I had was Yakutsk and Madagascar. I got so mad I forgot to ask where the WMD were.
Interrogation terminated: 2311 hours
Interrogation commenced: 1322 hours
We tried the "new cell-mate" approach with Capt Mark Biear. He entered the cell and introduced himself to SH as "Jamal al-Said". SH immediately knew his name was Mark Biear, blood type B-positive, Protestant. If we try this in the future, the "new cell-mate" should not wear dog-tags.
Interrogation terminated: 1322 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0938 hours
General Farley suggested a reverse-psychology approach, so I told SH I didn't care where the WMD were anymore and I didn't want to know. He asked if I was sure and I said yes, I didn't want to know where the WMD were. He asked if I was really, really sure and I insisted I didn't want to know where the WMD were. SH said that was too bad because he was just about to tell me. I recommend the forward-psychology approach from this point onward.
Interrogation terminated: 1002 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0820 hours
I thought I might try the "reward" technique so I asked SH if there were any movies he might like to see. He said he only really liked one movie, and it was about him and how he never told anyone where the WMD were hidden. I told him I hadn't heard of that movie, and he said that's because he hasn't finished making it yet.
Interrogation terminated: 0901 hours
Interrogation commenced: 1735 hours
I introduced a new system whereby SH can receive "Perk Points" for divulging important information. The number of "Perk Points" is determined by the value of the information divulged. "Perk Points" can be redeemed for valuable rewards like snacks and magazines, or saved up for even greater rewards like longer exercise walks and showers. So far, SH only has two "Perk Points" for telling me there was Nutella on my chin.
Interrogation terminated: 1800 hours
Interrogation commenced: 0630 hours
Today was very annoying because SH kept repeating what I said. I told him he was acting childish and he told me I was acting childish. I told him I was going to leave and he told me he was going to leave. I told him he couldn't leave because he was a prisoner and he told me I couldn't leave because I was a prisoner. I asked General Farley if I was a prisoner and he said no, so I don't know why SH said that.
Interrogation terminated: 0934 hours
Interrogation commenced: 1320 hours
I told SH the Red Cross was coming to check up on him next Wednesday. He said he was excited because he liked the Red Cross and looked forward to telling them where the WMD were. I asked him why he'd tell the Red Cross and not me and he said because they always give him a razor and a syringe of sodium phenobarbital. I obtained a razor and a syringe of sodium phenobarbital from the medical tent and gave them to SH. He still didn't tell me where the WMD were, and when I awoke I had no eyebrows and a needle in my thigh.
Interrogation terminated: 1844 hours
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