WASHINGTON – A defiant, deranged Saddam Hussein (search) is making outrageous statements to CIA (search) interrogators, claiming his government never surrendered - and that he would win by a landslide in new Iraqi elections, The Post has learned.
Saddam is also denying that his regime committed atrocities, charging that it was Iran (search) that launched the murderous chemical-weapons attacks on the Kurds in the late 1980s, according to U.S. officials who have been briefed on the bizarre interrogation sessions.
Refusing to acknowledge the desperate circumstances in which he finds himself, the imprisoned, egomaniacal ex-tyrant is demanding to be treated with respect, the officials said.
The Butcher of Baghdad has repeatedly insisted during this week's sessions that he is still president of Iraq and said his military and government never surrendered during the war, U.S. officials said.
At times, he's the cocky killer who balks at the simplest orders from his jailers - such as being asked to stand during some of the questioning.
"He's saying things like 'I'd like to sit down now. I'm the president of Iraq. You wouldn't treat your own president this way,'" said a U.S. intelligence official.
Sources said the American interrogators, in an attempt to break through that hubris, are repeatedly telling him that he is no longer president of Iraq.
They have also played him videotapes of Iraqis celebrating in the streets at the news of his capture and tapes of the uncovering of mass graves and former torture chambers.
"His reply to this is to tell us to go ahead and organize elections and that he'd win big if we did," said a U.S. official.
"He is trying to assume an aura of authority and the people questioning him constantly have to remind themselves who he is," said Ret. Col. Patrick Lang, former Middle East chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who has spoken to several former colleagues familiar with the interrogation sessions.
Saddam has also claimed in his interrogation sessions that he was a "fair and just" leader, denied he possessed weapons of mass destruction or had any relationship with Usama bin Laden and other terrorists, officials said.
Dr. Jerold Post, a George Washington University professor of psychiatry who helped the CIA develop a psychological profile of Saddam before the war, told The Post he believes he is now concerned about his place in history and is likely to follow in former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic's (search) footsteps by defying the United States while in captivity.
"We saw at the time of his arrest the yawning abyss of a broken self - a man who was born in a mud hut, who rose to incredible heights of grandeur and then returned, not only to the mud hut, but the hole under the mud hut," Post said.
"But now, his defenses are back in place and he appears to be very much concerned about burnishing his image and his place in history," he added.