Cracking Saddam: Ways to Break Iraq's Strongman

Once a boastful strongman, Saddam Hussein is now a prisoner — a feeble man held by the U.S. military after being pulled from a spider hole — but a prisoner with a wealth of secret information stored away.

The task for U.S. intelligence agents is to determine what Saddam really knows about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, its ties to Al Qaeda (search) and the guerrilla cells attacking the U.S.-led coalition in the desert country. But how the CIA will go about getting the answers is the subject of much debate.

"What they're hoping is that he'll brag and he'll accidentally give them some good information because he likes to talk about himself so much," said Linda Hughes (search), a former Defense Department interrogation specialist.

Jerrold M. Post (search), a former Saddam profiler for the CIA and now a psychiatry professor at George Washington University, said interrogators should play on Saddam's pride.

"I think we should play on his massively swollen ego and get him to boast," Post told, adding that establishing a rapport with the detainee is crucial, as is a thorough understanding of his personality profile.

But Post said brute force — verbal or physical — may not work.

"How can we 'break' Saddam? I don't think that should be the goal," he continued. "He characteristically is very defiant and defensive without any pressures on him and that would be stronger when pressure is put on him."

Post, who recently completed a research project that included interviewing Palestinian terrorists in groups like Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, said pride made his subjects open up.

"Similarly, I would try to get him [Saddam] to boast," Post said. "He's very proud of his historical reputation, he doesn't want to do anything to tarnish that reputation."

But many, including President Bush (search), are doubtful Saddam will spew forth much truth.

"I wouldn't trust a word he said," Bush said in an interview with ABC News this week. "He's deceived and lied to the world in the past. He's not going to change his stripes. And I wouldn't hold much account to the word of Saddam Hussein."

Hughes said interrogators need to find some way to trip up a man who is so mired in deceit he doesn't know fiction from reality.

"They know that he believes his own lies — this man lives in denial," Hughes said. "But they do want to ask him about the same information over and over and over and see if they can get something else out of him."

So what will it take to get Saddam talking?

"He appears to me to be a man with nothing left to lose," Ret. U.S. Army Maj. William Bradford (search), who teaches national security law at Indiana University, told Fox News. "He's lost his sons, he's lost control on power. All he has left now, it would seem to me, would be a forum, whether it be in a domestic trial or an international criminal trial, where he would be able to articulate his grounds for having done what he did.

"I don't really think there are any values ... that we can use as an inducement to transform his conduct. I'm skeptical there is anything," Bradford said.

So far, sources said, Saddam has told his captors that Iraq disposed of its destructive weapons long ago, that the country has no ties to Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terror network and that he knows nothing of the fate of Navy pilot Michael Scott Speicher (search), who has been missing since his plane was shot down in the first Gulf War during 1991.

One defense source told Fox News that Saddam's answers are the same as other detained regime members' and seem scripted.

Additionally, the CIA and others still have no formal method of proceeding with their questioning of Saddam.

"Some of the reporting suggests we have a grand strategy that is more structured and formal than the questioning really has been," one source told Fox News. "That isn't the case. We're still trying to figure him out."

That means interrogators are looking for any sort of body language or slip of the tongue that may provide a hint. Psychological tactics likely will be employed later to get Saddam to reveal something unknowingly.

"We can make them [Saddam and other regime members] listen to rap music 24 hours a day until he absolutely goes out of his mind," former CIA operative Wayne Simmons (searchtold Fox News.  He added, however, that "we don't want to go that way." Instead, interrogators should establish a personal relationship with Saddam to make sure he responds to questions, and at least one of the interrogators should be fluent in Arabic. 

And "when he lies, they'll start cataloging everything he does," Simmons said.

Some methods of questioning may, some postulate, include sleep deprivation or cold temperatures.

But one thing's for sure, according to Bush: "I have no idea how they're going to interrogate. I do know that this country doesn't torture."

Bradford said the interrogators know what's at stake and will hit the ground running every chance they can if a breaking point appears imminent.

"I think it is a historic opportunity to attempt to extract information and will do so consistent with the laws of war," he said. "They're steeled to that task."

Fox News' Ian McCaleb contributed to this report.