Saddam, the FBI and Cliocide in Iraq

Joyce Battle (with help from Brendan McQuade) has posted twenty interviews of Saddam Hussein by the FBI to the National Security Archives at George Washington University, having done the hard work of FOIAing them.

In this pdf file, the FBI interrogator asks a lot of leading questions about al-Qaeda and Saddam shoots them down effectively.

In this pdf file, Saddam explains, “Hussein stated Iran was Iraq’s major threat due to their common border and believed Iran intended to annex Southern Iraq into Iran. The possibility of Iran trying to annex a portion of Southern Iraq was viewed by Hussein and Iraq as the most significant threat facing Iraq. hussein viewed the other countries in the Middle East as weak and could not defend themselves or Iraq from a attack from Iran. Hussein stated he believed Israel was a threat to the entire Arab world, not specifically Iraq.”

Aljazeera English reports on Saddam Hussein’s fear of Iran (the reason he did not publicly admit to having destroyed his chemical and biological weapons), his distaste for al-Qaeda, and his toying with a new alliance with the US against Iran.

As a professional historian of the Middle East, I am appalled by these documents. They are very odd because the agenda for the interviews was clearly set by Cheney and they were intended to justify the Bush administration. The historical questions are naive and elicit no interesting new information. I can’t think of anything in the documents that couldn’t just have been found in Saddam’s old speeches. And the blanked-out document is very suspicious; presumably the answers there reflected poorly on Bush or Washington or something.

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and a mass murderer. But to have him so shoddily and self-interestedly debriefed and then lynched by the Mahdi Army was a great disservice to history. It is the sort of thing we came to expect from the Bush administration, which oversaw the destruction of the entire twentieth-century historical record for Iraq, as well as crushing and destroying under tanks and helicopters entire libraries of ancient Iraqi civilization, a crime I have dubbed “cliocide.”

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