US 'got it so wrong' on Saddam Hussein, says CIA interrogator of the Iraq dictator

'We never thought about using weapons of mass destruction,' former Iraqi ruler told CIA 

Will Worley
Sunday 18 December 2016 14:43 GMT
Saddam Hussein was executed in 2006
Saddam Hussein was executed in 2006

The US "got it wrong" about Saddam Hussein and Iraq, the CIA analyst who interrogated the former dictator has said.

John Nixon had numerous conversations with the deposed leader and now says that America was critically mistaken about their intervention Iraq in a number of ways.

In particular, he claims, the CIA’s view of Hussein’s attitude to using chemical weapons was wrong.

They were also mistaken about his health, personal habits and his involvement in running Iraq.

Mr Nixon also criticised the conduct of George W Bush, under whose leadership America invaded Iraq, saying the former president heard “only what he wanted to hear” on the topic.

During the interrogations, Mr Nixon asked Hussein if he’d ever thought of engaging in a pre-emptive strike with WMDs against US troops based in Saudi Arabia.

According to Mr Nixon, writing in the Mail on Sunday, the former dictator’s reply was: “We never thought about using weapons of mass destruction. It was not discussed. Use chemical weapons against the world? Is there anyone with full faculties who would do this? Who would use these weapons when they had not been used against us?”

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Mr Nixon admitted this was “not what we had expected to hear”.

The main reason the American and British governments used to justify the controversial invasion of Iraq was the supposed risk posed by the WMDs possessed by the country.

Hussein then said America had made such a grave misjudgement because “the spirit of listening and understanding was not there” and some of the blame for this lay with himself.

The faulty intelligence surrounding WMDs wasn’t the only mistake the Americans made about Iraq.

According to Mr Nixon, Hussein warned him against the nation building the American government was attempting in the country.

“You are going to fail,” Hussein told him. “You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.”

When asked why he believed this, Hussein said it was because the Americans didn’t understand the Iraqi people because they didn’t know the language, mind-set of the country, the history and even the weather.

Hussein was executed in 2006, three years after his capture close to his home town of Tikrit at the hands of American Special Forces.

But his predictions were accurate: The country descended into chaos after he was removed from power, and nearly 200,000 people have died in the conflicts that followed.

Iraq is now widely regarded as a failed state, and still suffers from widespread violence, including from Isis, who are currently defending the city of Mosul.

Thirteen years on, at least 5,000 American troops remain in the country.

Mr Nixon also spoke out against Mr Bush, who was rude towards him and reportedly made inappropriate jokes about the missing WMDs.

Mr Bush blamed the CIA for Iraq’s failures, Mr Nixon said, adding that he “called its analysis ‘guesswork’ while hearing only what he wanted to hear”.

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