The Mind of a Mad Man

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, December 19, that has been edited for clarity.

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JIM ANGLE, GUEST-HOST: Now that Saddam is in custody, how do we get him to talk? Saddam has an enormous ego and is a man of bluster and brutality, not someone known for telling the truth. How can interrogators penetrate the mind of a mad man?

For answers, we turn to a former interrogator himself and a long-time chief of intelligence planning for the Air Force, John Rothrock.

Thank you very much for joining us.


ANGLE: Let me ask you first, before we get into Saddam, about Libya (search). Pretty big news today, the president and Prime Minister Blair (search) have announced an agreement with him after several months of secret negotiations. I wasn't -- I had never though of Libya as a major source of weapons of mass destruction, though obviously, he's done a little bit of everything over the years, as well as supporting terror.

ROTHROCK: Well, I obviously -- I had no personal indication of these negotiations underway. But I do know that Qaddafi has had a very detailed effort over the past three or four years to ingratiate himself with the western community of nations. And I think this is part of it. But you really have to watch him.

I think that the real proof will not be in the weapons of mass destruction inspections because I don't think that there was ever an awful lot there for us to see. But I think that we really have to watch and see what sort of cooperation and how really earnest it is ... he gives us in the war against terror.

ANGLE: The president, as he laid it out today, they say that, "Libya must also fully engage in the war on terror. And if they cooperate with us and take steps to rejoin the international community, they will have our help in creating a better future for their citizens."

Obviously, there is a little bit of a carrot somewhere in here.

ROTHROCK: Yes. It's a big "if." I'll simply say that. I think that we really have to press him to put his effort where his mouth is.

ANGLE: Let's switch to Saddam. I want to talk about that for a while. Here is a guy known for arrogance, for bluster, for brutality, for lying and deceiving. How do you approach -- and a man of enormous ego -- how do you approach a guy like that as an interrogator?

ROTHROCK: Well, first off, I don't think that it is going to be very productive to approach him on a direct confrontational basis. Therefore, I think that, and as I'm sure that the interrogation preparation is doing right now, the interrogators are preparing themselves to understand the man and the mind very well.

ANGLE: You mean they're studying Saddam Hussein?

ROTHROCK: They are studying the profiles that have been developed and maintained on him over the years. CIA has substantial effort maintaining psychological profiles on high-profile people of interest around the world. They will take that profile, and having him now in person, they will attempt to expand upon it. And they will refine often in ways that he, hopefully, won't be aware of. He won't know he is talking with psychologists and he won't know he is being observed in certain ways.

And then once they have that understanding, they'll know better how to approach him. But, again, he won't be approached directly. I they they'll approach him indirectly.

ANGLE: Now, with someone like this, are you likely to use a single interrogator, two interrogators? Or do you have teams come in? How creative do you have to get? Is there, for instance, trickery involved here, bringing in people who appear to be from other Arab nations, for instance?

ROTHROCK: Well, a couple of things I'd say to that. First off, he would approach reasonable doubt indirectly, I would imagine. You wouldn't confront this guy. And the way to do that would be to play upon his vanity, and his obvious reluctance to attribute any responsibility for his current circumstances to himself. I'm sure that in his mind, he's been failed by numerous subordinates and other people have cheated and lied to him, etc.

ANGLE: Well, you get him to blame his subordinates and later they blame him.

ROTHROCK: Well, the point is that there's an awful lot you could learn simply by having him rail against all who failed him, as you compare his complaints to the intelligence holdings that you already have from other sources.

Regarding how many people you would have working him, this is going to be a very intensive effort. There is an awful lot of preparation that goes into every hour of interrogation, because you cannot appear to be unprofessional or unknowledgeable to this guy. Or else he simply develops contempt for you. So, you cannot ask him questions that he considers to be stupid. You have got to immediately demonstrate to them you know an awful lot about him and his background, the Baath Party, et cetera. An awful lot of preparation is required there.

ANGLE: We have got less than a minute left. What about trickery? Do you bring in people from other Arab nations? Do you make him think that he might be in the hands of people who won't be as, let's say, gentle with him as U.S. interrogators would? Thirty seconds.

ROTHROCK: I would definitely, in the indirect approach; I would have somebody come in who does not appear to be an interrogator. Preferably a native, Iraqi dialect speaker that we would somehow vet, and have them talk to them on a more personal basis outside of an interrogation environment, while maintaining the interrogation separately.

ANGLE: OK. Mr. Rothrock, thank you very much for joining us, sir.

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