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Journalist Ronald Kessler's new book "The Terrorist Watch" has a fascinating account in it about the last days of Saddam Hussein.

Kessler interviewed FBI special agent George Piro, who was Saddam's main interrogator for a year. Piro spent seven hours a day with Saddam and eventually — after essentially becoming Saddam's best and only friend — the "Butcher of Baghdad" admitted his crimes to Piro.

Some of the details of Piro's account are fascinating on a human level. Saddam loved whiskey and Cuban cigars, he liked talking sports, and loved talking about the pulp novels he authored.

But the heavy stuff was important, too. Saddam admitted he gassed the Kurds and ordered the slaughter of thousands, who are buried in mass graves.

And importantly, Saddam admitted he plotted to build a doomsday nuke bomb. He was especially worried his neighbor Iran would discover he did not have WMDs because he was afraid of the Iranians, and he plotted to build his nuke right up to 9/11, at which time Piro says Saddam knew the jig was up, and he would make no more progress on his dream bomb.

He liked ex-Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, but hated both Bushes. No shock there, since he fought two wars against the Bush presidents.

Piro said Saddam cried when Piro told him he was leaving to go home at the end of his year, and they smoked a goodbye cigar together.

I'd be anxious to see a book by Piro, especially more on the point of Saddam's nuke bomb plans. It's an interesting point. If the United States under a President Gore or President Clinton had used diplomacy after 9/11 instead of the military, would Saddam have been able to continue to bob and weave, hide and obfuscate, and eventually get his doomsday nuke?

Actually, I'm glad we won't ever know the answer to that question. Waiting and seeing what might have happened might have meant disaster for us, instead of what happened, which was disaster for Saddam.

That's My Word.

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