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FBI Still Using FBI Agent Who Interviewed Saddam Hussein as Recruiting Tool

FBI Agent George Piro interviewed on 60 Minutes in 2008

FBI Agent George Piro interviewed on 60 Minutes in 2008

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI continues to use  the agent who  interviewed and befriended the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to entice new agents.

“Imagine sitting across from Saddam Hussein every day for nearly seven straight months—slowly earning his trust, getting him to spill secrets on everything from whether he gave the order to gas the Kurds (he did) to whether he really did have weapons of mass destruction on the eve of war (he didn’t). All the while gathering information that would ultimately be used to prosecute the deposed dictator in an Iraqi court,” the FBI says on its career web page.

It said the agent who interviewed the the Iraqi leader was FBI Special Agent George Piro, who is now an assistant special agent in charge at the FBI’s Washington field office.

“Soon after U.S. special forces pulled Saddam out of a spider hole on December 13, 2003, the CIA—knowing the former dictator would ultimately have to answer for his crimes against the Iraqi people—asked the FBI to debrief Hussein because of our longstanding work in gathering statements for court,” the bureau wrote in a release dated Jan. 28, 2008 that remains on the homepage of the career website.

“That’s when we turned to Piro, an investigator on our terrorism fly team who was born in Beirut and speaks Arabic fluently. Piro was supported by a team of CIA analysts and FBI agents, intelligence analysts, language specialists, and a behavioral profiler,” the FBI wrote.

The release on the web page continues:

From that day forward, everything Piro did was designed to build an emotional bond with Saddam and to get him to talk truthfully. To make Hussein dependent on him and him alone, Piro became responsible for virtually every aspect of his life, including his personal needs. He always treated Saddam with respect, knowing he would not respond to threats or tough tactics. As part of his plan, Piro also never told Hussein that he was an FBI field agent, instead letting him believe, for the sake of building credibility, that he was a high-level official who reported directly to the President.

Image of Saddam  Hussein being fingerprinted by an FBI agent
An FBI agent fingerprints Saddam shortly after his capture./fbi photo

It took time. Piro spent five to seven hours a day with Saddam for months, taking advantage of every small opportunity that presented itself, including listening to Hussein’s poetry. Eventually, Saddam began to open up.

Among Saddam’s revelations:

  • Saddam misled the world into believing that he had weapons of mass destruction in the months leading up to the war because he feared another invasion by Iran, but he did fully intend to rebuild his WMD program.
  • Piro told 60 Minutes that Saddam considered Usama bin Laden “a fanatic” and a threat who couldn’t be trusted.
  • The former dictator admitted “initially miscalculating President Bush and President Bush’s intentions,” Piro said, thinking the war would be more like the shortened air campaign of the Gulf War.
  • Saddam never used look-alikes or body doubles as widely believed, thinking no one could really play his part.
  • Hussein made the decision to invade neighboring Kuwait in 1990 following an insulting comment by one of its emirs.

Piro was so successful at befriending Saddam that the former dictator was visibly moved when they said goodbye. “I saw him tear up,” Piro said during the television interview.


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