What Techniques Are Being Used to Question Saddam?

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, December 17, 2003.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST:  Now for the top story tonight, the interrogation of Saddam Hussein (search).  Reports are he is resisting most questions, is arrogant about it.  So what can be done?

Joining us now from Washington is Wayne Simmons, former CIA Intelligence operative, who has done terrorist interrogations.

All right, you're the -- I'm putting you in charge, Mr. Simmons.  You know Saddam Hussein's profile, coward but arrogant, knows an enormous amount that could help and protect the United States.  So how do you go about it?

WAYNE SIMMONS, FMR CIA INTERROGATOR:  Bill, this is the hard drive.  This is the hard drive.  This is an interrogator's dream.  It's very rare that we ever get the hard drive.  We get the floppy disks.  And we have to piece them together and find out what's going on.

One thing that we won't do with Saddam Hussein, I can assure you, is we will not take a sledgehammer to the hard drive.  It make no sense to try to beat this guy up and try to intimidate him to get intelligence out of this man who holds virtually every secret from Iraq for the last 35 years.

O'REILLY:  All right.  But if you're not going to beat him with a hammer, how are we going to get it out of him?  I mean, he was a guy that always says what's in it for me?

SIMMONS:  That's exactly right.  This is what they did . And moments, literally, after they grabbed him, Bill, as you know, they had him confronted by at least four members of the Iraqi council, those who had either been tortured by him or his police or their families had been.  That was the beginning of the interrogation.  That was the beginning of the breakdown.

What they're going to do is send teams of interrogators in.  They will watch his body movements.  They will watch his mannerisms.  And they will see how he responds to each set of interrogators.

These are the very best of the best that do this.  They're high ID'd, very persistent, very persuasive.  They will not let this become personal in any manner, way, shape, or form, but they will try at certain times to almost befriend Saddam Hussein.  And it will take a little time, but he will, I guarantee you, start talking when he is confronted with the atrocities that he's perpetuated on Iraq.

O'REILLY:  Okay, so you said they're going to coax it out of him.  That's what I'm getting from you.

SIMMONS:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.

O'REILLY:  All right now, what if that doesn't work?  What if he's just absolutely obstinate and he doesn't do it?  See, I would deprive him of sleep,  number one.  I'd make sure that he was, you know, very sleep-deprived.  I wouldn't give him a lot of good food.  You know, because you have to have a carrot and a stick.  If he gives you stuff that's verifiable, then of course you reward him for it, as you would any person.

But what can you do?  You can deprive him of sleep.  You can isolate him.  You can give him bad food.  Right?  All of those things legit?

SIMMONS:  Absolutely.  And I'm not saying that they won't do that in certain degrees.  But what is not going to happen immediately is, you know, is the hammer.  And by the hammer I mean they're not going to put the pedal down and just abuse the guy.

O'REILLY:  All right, so they take their time.  All right, now what about....

SIMMONS:  Exactly.

O'REILLY:  ...sodium pentothal, mind-altering drugs, chemicals, things like that?

SIMMONS:  Fair game.  Absolutely fair game.

O'REILLY:  You can do that?

SIMMONS:  Now Bill, I must tell you, I have been involved in or been -- not involved in, been in the rooms when narco terrorist interrogations were taking place.  And they are brutal.  You don't want to watch someone get their eyes cut out, have their tongues cut out.

O'REILLY:  Now you're talking about the narco terrorists themselves interrogating...

SIMMONS:  That's correct.

O'REILLY:  Not the U.S. government interrogating them?

SIMMONS:  That's exactly right.  That's exactly right.  And my point is this...

O'REILLY:  We don't do that.

SIMMONS:  That's exactly right.

O'REILLY:  All right.

SIMMONS:  We have got to maintain -- we're way above that.  We don't need to do that.

O'REILLY:  Do the Egyptians and the Jordanians do that because once in a while some of our people will find their way over there?

SIMMONS:  Well, you know, I have no idea what they do.  I mean, I -- it would all be supposition.

O'REILLY:  Supposition?

SIMMONS:  Yes, and speculation.  So -- but what I can tell you, we -- what we don't - we don't do that.  We don't need to do that.  Our people are so talented, Bill, that we will get this out of him.  And...

O'REILLY:  What about the drugs, though?  Are they a fail-safe, if you inject somebody with a sodium pentothal?  Or other drugs that they have, will you then absolutely get them to cooperate?

SIMMONS:  Well, yes.  There are ways that they will do that.  I mean, again, we have to go back to this is the hard drive.  Bill, there can be no -- there can be no stone left unturned with this guy.  We get one shot at him.


SIMMONS:  If we destroy that hard drive, we will never be able to get back in and find out...

O'REILLY:  Yes, you know don't want to -- well, you want to break him down rather than physically destroy him.

SIMMONS:  Well, that's right.

O'REILLY:  But you know, look, there are nervous people out there right now, Mr. Simmons.  And I'm sure you know that.  There are nervous people in France, in Germany, in Russia, in the United States and Iraq.

This guy did business with a lot of people.  He knows a lot of things.  He knows all about the weapons of mass destruction.  He may know of a meeting between Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 chief killer and Abu Nidal, who he assassinated.

SIMMONS:  Absolutely.

O'REILLY:  He'd have to know about that.  All right?

SIMMONS:  Absolutely.

O'REILLY:  This could change the course of the world here, this interrogation.  And that's why you see people like "The New York Times" pushing for the trial real fast, because I don't think they're all that anxious to have all this come out.

SIMMONS:  Well, look, we -- two things.  One is that the president knew this, Bill.  The president knew this.  He saw the films, the videos of what Saddam Hussein is being forced to watch now.  That's one of the things that Saddam Hussein has to come to grips with, is that he is the one who perpetrated these crimes upon humanity on his own people.

O'REILLY:  All right, so you're saying he's being forced to watch the bodies being dug up, this kind of thing.

SIMMONS:  Absolutely.

O'REILLY:  So they're just playing it.

SIMMONS:  We are going to make him watch this over and over and over.

O'REILLY:  But he's a sociopath.  He's a psychopath.

SIMMONS:  That's...

O'REILLY:  What difference does it make?  He'd probably enjoy it.

SIMMONS:  Well, no, because let me tell you, Bill.  This compartmentalization is what it's all about.  I was trained to use compartmentalization.  This guy has to be so good at it because of the enormity of the crimes that he has committed or allowed to be committed, that he could not -- no one could possibly survive with any sanity without being able to compartmentalize.

The trick for our interrogators is to take those doors down.  They have to take them down one at a time.  But believe me, once the doors start opening, it's not a slow process.  It starts opening faster and faster and...

O'REILLY:  All right.  Well, I'm glad you're so optimistic because this is a turning point for America in the war on terror.

SIMMONS:  Well, this is all about President Bush.

O'REILLY:  This is the biggest guy they're ever going to get, except for Usama bin Laden.  And he'll kill himself.  I don't think we'll take him.

SIMMONS:  Well, I agree with you, Bill.

O'REILLY:  All right, Mr. Simmons, thanks very much.  We appreciate it.

SIMMONS:  My pleasure.

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