Sad­dam chron­i­cles

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

“You’ve got to talk to Ge­orge Piro,” John Miller, the FBI’s as­sis­tant di­rec­tor for pub­lic af­fairs, was telling Ron­ald Kessler over lunch at Brasserie Les Halles in down­town Wash­ing­ton as they dis­cussed plans for Mr. Kessler’s book “The Ter­ror­ist Watch: Inside the Des­per­ate Race to Stop the Next At­tack.”

“That’ll be your best in­ter­view,” Mr. Miller opined.

He should know. Be­fore tak­ing the FBI job, he was the pop­u­lar an­chor for ABC’s “20/20,” and one of the few jour­nal­ists to have in­ter­viewed elu­sive ter­ror­ist mas­ter­mind Osama bin Laden.

“No­body’s ever heard of Piro,” Mr. Miller ex­plained. “And if you ever men­tion his name in pub­lic, I’ll have to have you killed,” added the FBI as­sis­tant di­rec­tor, who coin­ci­den­tally, like all G-men, was armed.

Mr. Miller ex­plained that Mr. Piro is the Ara­bic-speak­ing FBI agent who was tasked with de­brief­ing Iraqi dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein af­ter his cap­ture.

“For seven months, ev­ery sin­gle day, he in­ter­viewed Sad­dam,” Mr. Miller re­vealed. “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 a year later, Mr. Kessler in­ter­viewed Mr. Piro for his new book, which hits stores Nov. 13.

“From Sad­dam’s strat­egy dur­ing the 2003 in­va­sion to why no weapons of mass de­struc­tion were ever found, Piro un­rav­eled mys­ter­ies and pro­vided in­sights about one of the great­est mass mur­der­ers of our time,” says Mr. Kessler, who re­veals that when it was time to say good­bye, Mr. Piro pulled out two Cuban Co­hiba cigars, Sad­dam’s fa­vorite brand.

“We sat out­side, smoked a cou­ple of Cuban cigars, had some cof­fee and chat­ted,” Mr. Piro told the au­thor.

Then, the two men said their good­byes in the tra­di­tional Arab man­ner: a hand­shake and then a kiss to the right cheek, a kiss to the left, and a kiss to the right again. That, says Mr. Kessler, made Mr. Piro a lit­tle un­com­fort­able.

As for Sad­dam, he ap­par­ently was shaken and be­came teary-eyed.

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