On Dec. 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was executed for having ordered the suppression of rebellious Kurds in Iraq. That campaign left 180,000 Kurds missing and presumed dead. But an illuminating confession revealed that Hussein said no WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] were left after 1991.
Ronald Kessler (The New York Times) interviewed George Piro—the last confidante of Hussein before his execution. Piro was the perfect man for the job. An Arabic speaker born in Beirut, he came to the United States at , served in the military, became a police detective, and joined the FBI in 1999.
Being a subject-matter expert, Piro was given the special mission of debriefing Hussein before his execution. Piro became Hussein’s best and only friend for eight months. He wanted to find out Hussein’s thoughts on the initial invasion, the ordering of 300,000 people killed, and WMDs.
Piro found out that Hussein did indeed order the use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja. Hussein [also] confided why he actually had no usable WMDs but pretended he did: Because of Iran’s war of attrition with Iraq, Hussein always felt Iran was a threat. If Iran thought he had serious WMDs, they would be reluctant to attack Iraq, [but] Iran would only believe it if the U.S. thought it was true. So whenever the inspectors visited, Hussein gave them the runaround and acted like he still had WMDs.
The Clinton administration warned profusely of Hussein’s WMDs. [Given] Hussein’s WMD history, Putin’s pronouncement that Hussein had WMDs, Hussein’s 14,000-page “lie” to the United Nations, Hussein’s attempts to shoot down allied aircraft in the no-fly zone and his total disregard for 14 U.N. resolutions, Bush made the correct decision to depose Hussein—not attack Iraq.
Intriguingly, Hussein confided to Piro aspirations to develop nuclear capability in an incremental fashion. From payoffs to key officials, Hussein believed sanctions would be lifted within a year or so, and he could then recreate Iraq’s WMD capability. … It seems [that] Condoleeza Rice’s words about being too late if you see the mushroom cloud were omniscient. …
Hussein could have shipped many of his WMDs to neighboring terrorist states like Syria before things became dicey, [thus] having no WMDs at the moment of the U.S. incursion. Likely, many of Hussein’s secrets died with him.
— Kevin Roeten