Saddams capture: A major step forward
Howard Dean’s denials not with standing, the capture of Saddam Hussein brings us closer to Peace on Earth. Libyan dictator Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s fear of a Saddam- or Taliban-like fate just prompted him to invite the world in to watch as he destroys his stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, Saddam, who is not a prisoner of war (POW), is being treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention on the handling of POWs. Overtime, our interrogators will get Saddam to want to tell everything he knows. While they might use some “second generation” truth-inducing drugs (which are perfectly permissible) Saddam will not suffer physical harm. His care and feeding will pass International Red Cross inspection.
The Coalition’s public presentation of the captured Saddam has been brilliant. The videos of Saddam’s rat-hole hovel, of Saddam’s medical examination and the photos of Saddam confronted by a member of the Iraqi governing council were designed for three audiences: the Arab world, Coalition home audiences and Saddam himself.
In the photo where Saddam is confronted in his cell by Iraqi Governing Council member, Ahmed Chalabi, note how Chalabi was sitting high in a chair and Saddam was on the floor. That sent a message well understood in the Middle East and the Orient.
No doubt Saddam is being shown films of his sons’ last stand. No doubt Saddam is being shown articles from the Arab press condemning him for not going down with guns blazing. In short, the C.I.A. is playing mind games with Saddam designed reduce his sense of self worth to rubble and designed to unhinge him from whatever emotional moorings he has left.
Uncertainty and fear of the unknown are powerful interrogation weapons. Saddam knows, unlike some of our Middle Eastern or Oriental Coalition members, we do not use physical torture. But Saddam must fear his interrogation might be turned over to someone like: the Kurds, Kuwaitis, Turks or to the Israeli Mossad.
Perhaps, a greater fear is being turned over to his friend and business partner, French President Jacques Chirac and Chirac’s DGSE (Direction General de Securite Exterieur). How do you say “regrettable “accident” in French? Saddam also fears death from Syria, Lebanon and Iran -- any or all of which may have given safe haven to his weapons of mass destruction.
While we won’t let others have him, Saddam doesn’t know that. So, a way to play on his fear of non-U.S. interrogation is to trick him into thinking he is en route to one of the more interrogation “creative” countries. Deprived of sight and sound (perfectly permissible) Saddam can be taken for a flight of the length it would take to fly to one of our more interrogation “creative” allies.
Of course, the flight would end up back in Baghdad. With sight and sound restored, Saddam would find himself in a cell environment looking as if he had been taken to one of the more interrogation “creative” countries. His new team of interrogators would speak Arabic, but with the accent of their home country. In plain view would be the usual array of Middle Eastern torture instruments. Saddam might have a sudden urge to reveal where he hid or sent those weapons of mass destruction.
A more complicated trick is to stage a false “rescue” of Saddam by his “supporters” who spirit him away to a safe location where they debrief him on what he did and did not tell his C.I.A. interrogators.
The NAZIs staged a variation of this trick by building what appeared to be a British military hospital. Royal Air Force pilots rendered unconscious by being shot down would wake up in what they thought was a British hospital back home. Shortly thereafter, an Oxford English-speaking NAZI dressed as a British intelligence officer would drop by to “debrief” them on their missions. The unwitting British wounded gave away tons of valuable information.
Our guys know many “non-invasive” tricks. And, in time, Saddam will tell us all he knows.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, served in Europe in the early years of the Cold War as an intelligence officer.
©2003. William Hamilton.