Saddam's Capture: The Colonels Weigh In

Have questions about Saddam's capture? In a FOX Fan exclusive, Col. David Hunt and Col. Bill Cowan give answers:

Col. David Hunt
Who tipped U.S. forces, why did they wait until now, and what was their motive?

Col. Hunt: Saddam family members, a criminal and a good informant all gave information that lead to the capture. Some believe we paid some money for the information. It would seem to have been money well spent.

Col. Bill Cowan
We've heard the Army's 4th Infantry Division used actionable Army intelligence and not CIA intelligence. Do you think this is a turning point for how we gather information in this conflict?  

Col. Cowan: Before 9/11, the CIA was typically concerned about strategic intelligence, which impacted on our nation at the global level.  Examples are economics, politics, technologies, and other issues that define relationships between countries.  The Agency would acquire this information through its "case officers," the men who recruited and managed foreign spies, or through technical capabilities. 
As for military intelligence, the military is typically concerned about tactical intelligence — that which impacts on our ability to fight and win on the battlefield.  Those who work in the business know that there is much more to an explanation about the CIA and the military, but this is the basics of it.
The events of 9/11 changed the way we do intelligence business.  We’ve got more CIA people stationed around the world than ever before, and their principal focus is terrorism.  At the same time, we’ve got more CIA people working side-by-side with the military than ever before.  This ability to immediately share information between military and CIA analysts has dramatically improved our intelligence capabilities. 
Against that backdrop, we’ll now have more information coming in from locals who don’t have to worry about Saddam’s return.  The challenge will be sorting through it, determining the veracity of it, and conducting operations which succeed.

Col. Hunt: Actionable intelligence is the same for both the Army and the CIA. It means intelligence that is not less than 24 hours old. However, many are being less than honest about the role being played by both sides. The intelligence leading to the capture of Saddam was both national level intelligence, provided by the CIA, DIA, NSA, and Army Intel.
What do you make of Saddam's use of a "spider hole"? 
Col. Cowan: It’s been reported that Saddam had as many as 30 of these holes that he would move around and hide in.  As the visuals on TV show, the spider hole he came out of was well camouflaged.  However, we don’t want to waste valuable assets looking around for spider holes unless we are very confident that someone important is hiding in one, and we can localize where it might be.  They are indeed tough to find.  His being in one, particularly as cramped and uncomfortable as that one, tells us how desperate he was to avoid capture.

Col. Hunt: Spider holes have been used for centuries. As we have seen, they can be very effective. Our military uses them, but we call then HIDES. They are designed to be lived in for up to 30 days. They are cramped, nasty and uncomfortable, all of which we witnessed when the press toured Saddam's hole.

Is this how Saddam expected to be found?
Col. Cowan: Based on his comments to the soldier who captured him, it might seem that he had thought about that moment on more than one occasion.  Frankly, I often thought he would be found in someone’s courtyard where he could relax and enjoy the sunshine, moving inside or into a basement if threatened.

Col. Hunt: No. He was surprised; the hide was designed for temporary stay.

Why did he stay in Iraq? What do you think he was working on?
Col. Cowan: Great question.  He could have fled over the border to Syria, as was often suggested, and have taken up in some small village.  Perhaps he just had a "comfort factor" in Iraq knowing that there were always people around who still supported him.  As for what he was working on, my guess is not much of anything.  He may have thought he could stay in hiding, with local support, for as long as it took for the Americans to leave.

Col. Hunt: He stayed where he was most comfortable, where he had a network, where many still feared him and owed him favors. He was in power for over 30 years, plenty of time to plan his escape or to come up with places to hide, like in a taxicab or in a series of holes.
What is the likelihood he will tell the U.S. anything regarding Al Qaeda or WMD?
Col. Cowan: Apparently he’s already denying any knowledge of Al Qaeda or WMD.   Frankly, there’s no reason to believe him.  In his interrogations he’s not likely to give up much information about these subjects until somewhere down the road.  He’ll eventually wear down like many of the detainees who’ve been held two years now at Guantanamo.

Col. Hunt: What does he gain by talking? He probably does not know a lot of specifics. He is a butcher, but a ruthless butcher; he probably will not give us anything. He may talk more when he is given over to the Iraqis for trial.
Did the insurgency plan for Saddam's capture? What should we expect? 
Col. Cowan: We don’t know yet how involved he was in the insurgency, but we should expect that the $750,000 wasn’t simply pocket change he was walking around with.  If he was directly involved and they didn’t have a plan for losing him (captured or killed), they’re either amateurs or arrogant.  Any war-fighting organization needs to have plans for what happens when the main guy is lost.  The last thing they want to do is bicker over who’ll be boss.

Colonel David Hunt has over 29 years of military experience including extensive operational experience in Special Operations, Counterterrorism and Intelligence Operations. He served as Tactical Advisor in Bosnia where he facilitated all national intelligence matters for the Commander in Chief. Prior to this, he served as counterterrorism coordinator to the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. He has served as a security advisor for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as state and local police officials,and is a graduate of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

A retired Marine Corps officer, Bill Cowan spent three and a half years on combat assignments in Vietnam. In the 1980s, he was specially selected to serve as one of the first members and as the only Marine in the Pentagon's most classified counterterrorist unit, the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA), a unit that to this date remains under the tightest security. While there, Cowan served as a senior military operations officer and field operative on covert missions to the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. He is a co-founder of the WVC3 Group, a company providing homeland security services, support and technologies to government and commercial clients.