Saddam Pursued Nukes
By Ronald Kessler
In seven months of secret debriefings, Saddam Hussein admitted that he faked having weapons of mass destruction but planned on developing a weapons of mass destruction program with nuclear capability within a year.
Saddam made the admissions in videotaped interviews with George L. Piro, an FBI agent who was assigned by the FBI with the CIA’s approval to try to develop his cooperation.
For my book "The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to the Next Attack" — being published this week — Piro described the debriefings, which have never been previously revealed. (Get Ronald Kessler's new book, here.) The book is being excerpted exclusively in the December issue of Newsmax magazine.
“You’ve got to talk to George Piro,” John Miller, the assistant FBI director for public affairs, was telling me over lunch at Brasserie Les Halles in downtown Washington as we discussed plans for the book in August 2006. “That’ll be your best interview.”
Miller should know. Before taking the FBI job, he was an anchor for ABC’s "20/20," and he is one of the few journalists to have interviewed Osama bin Laden.
“Nobody’s ever heard of Piro,” Miller said. “And if you ever mention his name in public, I’ll have to have you killed,” said Miller, who, coincidentally, like all FBI agents, was armed.
Miller explained that Piro is an Arabic-speaking FBI agent who debriefed Saddam Hussein after his capture. Just before his 13th birthday, Piro moved with his family from Beirut to the United States. The young boy could not speak English. The family settled in California, and Piro eventually served in the military and became a police detective. He joined the FBI in 1999.
“For seven months, every single day, he interviewed Saddam,” Miller said. “He spent every waking day with Saddam Hussein from the time he was captured to just about a year ago. It’s like 'Tuesdays with Morrie.' Every day, you sit down with Saddam Hussein and say, ‘Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday.’” Almost exactly a year later, I finally sat down with Piro to learn what Saddam told him.
In the interim, I had interviewed most of the key players in the war on terror, from CIA Director Michael Hayden and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to Fran Townsend, chief of counterterrorism in the White House. The book presents the chilling story of terrorists’ relentless efforts to mount another devastating attack on the United States and of the heroic efforts being made to stop those plots.
It demonstrates how the media and some politicians have undermined those efforts.