Wickenburg news you need to know !
FBI Agent Gets to the Truth
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
That was the job of FBI
Special Agent George Piro, who told his story Sunday,
January 27, on the TV news program 60 Minutes.
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.
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.
Piro knew getting Saddam to
talk wouldn’t be easy. He prepped by carefully studying the
former dictator’s life so he could better connect with Saddam
and more easily determine when he was being honest. It worked:
during the first interview on January 13, 2004, Piro talked
about Saddam’s four novels and Iraqi history, which impressed
Hussein. Saddam asked for Piro to come back.
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.
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
agent fingerprints Saddam shortly after
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Joe Persichini, Assistant
Director in Charge of our Washington office and Piro’s boss,
told 60 Minutes that Piro’s expert work in revealing
Saddam’s secrets was “probably one of the top accomplishments of
the agency in the last 100 years.”
To watch or read the full
interview of George Piro, visit the
60 Minutes website.