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Why Saddam Hussein lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

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Saddam Hussein encouraged the perception that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) because he was afraid of appearing weak in Iran's eyes, according to nearly two dozen declassified transcripts of an FBI agent’s conversations with the former Iraqi dictator released Wednesday.

The National Security Archive, a project run by The George Washington University in Washington, obtained 20 interviews and five “casual conversations” through the Freedom of Information Act. Conducted in 2004 by FBI agent George Piro, they shed new light on Mr. Hussein’s thinking and the course of events that led to the US invasion six years ago.
Among the findings, with links to the .pdf file of the relevant transcript:

  • Hussein criticized Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as a “zealot,” denied meeting him in Sudan in 1994, and said his country and the international terrorist franchise “did not have the same belief or vision.”
  • Iraq would have been more likely to cooperate with China or North Korea, with which Hussein claimed to have a relationship. But his first choice would have been to seek a security agreement with the US to protect Iraq against regional threats.
  • Iraq had complied with all UN resolutions regarding nuclear weapons by 1998. The main reason Hussein would not let UN inspectors return after kicking them out was that he was afraid Iran would learn from them where to strike Iraq.
  • Hussein reluctantly reversed that decision after the British government prepared a report with inaccurate intelligence. “It was this inaccurate intelligence on which the United States was making their decisions,” says the transcript.
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