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Let The Inquisition Begin!

US Intelligence officials say it will be months before the former Iraqi leader can be broken down with psychological and physical tactics.
Physical and psychological torture are apparently OK if we do it.

By Dana Priest & Walter Pincus
LA Times - Washington Post Service

WASHINGTON - Saddam Hussein is likely to spend months, if not years, in isolation and under interrogation by U.S. military and CIA officials, government sources said Sunday.

U.S. Intelligence officials have learned through the interrogations of top al-Qaida terrorists, in particular, to expect months to pass before they can begin breaking down Saddam through psychological and physical stress, U.S. intelligence officials and experts said.

"There will be a lot of exploratory conversations with him. I would not expect this to happen quickly," said Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and one of a handful of members who have been briefed on Saddam's capture. "He has a long history of denial and deception."

Saddam's questioning is being conducted by CIA and military interrogators trained on a wide array of tactics - from feigned charm to intimidation. They have, as Goss puts it, "several yellow pages of questions" to put to the former Iraqi leader.

They are focusing on his knowledge of any specific operations planned against U.S. troops or civilians in Iraq and on his knowledge of how the resistance is organized and supplied.

Interrogators want to quickly figure out "whether he is the evil mastermind who knows every twist and turn of the resistance or is he just in touch with a small number of people and doesn't have much actionable intelligence," said Daniel Byman, a Middle East analyst at Georgetown University.

Next on the list are questions about terrorist operations and networks operating outside Iraq and information about weapons of mass destruction, officials said.

Although described as talkative by U.S. military commanders, Saddam was also defiant and unrepentant, said members of the Iraqi Governing Council, leading authorities to think that one of the world's wiliest survivors has a plan for even this stage of his existence.

To deal with the lack of coooperation, some officials involved in supervising his captivity expect to ooperate under the same guidance, approved by the White House counsel's office, used in the interrogation of key al-Qaida figures such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Ramzi Binalshibh.

The guidelines allow handlers to subject captives to limited pain and discomfort.

In some cases, they have deprived captives of sleep, restroom facilities and comfortable seating positions. In at least one case, they have denied pain medication.

Those guidelines are likely to be tightened up, said one senior white House official, to come in strict accordance with the Geneva Conventions, because Saddam was a head of state and the top military commander of a country, not a terrorist organization.


I found it appalling to see our local evening news matter-of-factly reporting (with visual images) that Saddam WOULD be deprived of sleep, restroom facilities, and comfortable seating (as well as possible pain medication) for an extended period of time as though there were absolutely nothing wrong in treating the head of a foreign government (dictator or not) in this way without a trial.