Saddam: The 'clean freak' who thinks he's still president

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A glimpse into the mind of Saddam Hussein has revealed that he wrestles as much with his hatred of the cereal Froot Loops as with his anger towards Bush's Senior and Junior.

American soldiers who spent 10 months guarding him have revealed a list of the former dictator's passions - and topping the bill are Doritos, Raisin Bran Crunch and Ronald Reagan, although not necessarily in that order.

Saddam's unexpected admiration for Reagan was expressed in broken English to the five soldiers who have now finished their tour of duty in Iraq and have given an interview to the American edition of GQ magazine.

The former leader, whom they said had convinced himself was still president, said of them: "The Bush father, son, no good," maintaining of George W Bush: "He knows I have nothing - no mass weapons. He knows that he will never find them."

One soldier, Jesse Dawson, said: "He'd always tell us he was still the president. That's what he thinks, 100 per cent."

Saddam derided the Americans, according to the magazine, for failing to target the palace he was in during a spate of bombing in Baghdad at the start of the invasion in March 2003. "America, they dumb" he reportedly said to the soldiers. "They bomb the wrong palace."

The magazine provided a portrayal of Saddam as a poetry lover, who enjoyed telling jokes, tending to his garden and smoking cigars, who also displayed paternal instincts towards his guards, offering them advice and the opportunity to tour his country once he regains power.

Saddam displayed a perhaps unsurprising chauvinism, telling one soldier: "You must find a good woman, not too smart, not too old, one that can cook and clean". And he displayed an obsession with cleanliness during the period the soldiers, all Pennsylvania National Guardsmen, were observing.

A Pentagon spokes-woman said that it would be inappropriate to comment on the story.

n In defiance of two major US-Iraqi offensives against rebels in the past few days, a suicide car bomber killed at least 15 traffic policemenoutside their unit's headquarters yesterday in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil.And insurgents assaulted a police station in Baghdad, killing at least eight policemen and an eight-month-old baby.