A former CIA intelligence officer who interviewed former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein said U.S. officials “got it so wrong” on invading Iraq.
John Nixon, who held a number of conversations with the dictator before his 2006 execution, said U.S. officials made grave errors in their Iraqi intervention, saying their view on Hussein’s attitude to using chemical weapons was incorrect. They were also mistaken on his health, habits, and how he ran Iraq.
Nixon, who wrote about his account in the Mail on Sunday, asked Hussein if he had thought about using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) on U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.
Hussein’s response 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?”
Nixon elaborated, saying his response wasn’t what “we had expected to hear.”
In 2003, in a famously controversial move, former President George W. Bush said the U.S. needed to invade Iraq because of the risk posed by WMDs. The U.K. government followed suit.
Hussein later warned Nixon about attempting to govern Iraq after he was deposed.
“You are going to fail,” Hussein told Nixon, according to his account. “You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.”
The former leader noted that Americans don’t understand Iraqis, their language, thinking, history, or even the country’s weather.
Nixon said President Bush had “blamed the agency for everything that went wrong and called its analysis ‘guesswork’ while hearing only what he wanted to hear.”
Hussein’s comments to Nixon appear to be somewhat prophetic, in hindsight, as Iraq descended into chaos after he was removed from power. The U.S. currently has 5,000 troops in the country—five years after President Barack Obama announced pulling troops from the country. The number of American forces recently increased in Iraq in anticipation of taking Mosul back from the ISIS terrorist group.
Hussein was executed in Iraq on Dec. 30, 2006, via hanging.