Confronting Saddam Hussein
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JEFFREY BROWN: Adnan Pachachi was foreign minister of Iraq before Saddam Hussein’s party took power in 1968. He is now a member of the Iraq Governing Council and joins us on the phone from Baghdad.
Mr. Pachachi, this must have been an extraordinary moment for you and your colleagues. Could you tell us what it was like, being in the room with Saddam Hussein?
ADNAN PACHACHI: It was indeed an extraordinary moment, and it came rather quickly and unexpectedly. We found him tired, haggard, and obviously a spent force – he seemed to be unrepentant and there was no remorse and even sometimes there was a hint of defiance. Sometimes he wasn’t very coherent and he seemed to say the same thing over again – you know, all the slogans, all the excuses – and one wonders whether he believes his own slogans.
JEFFREY BROWN: I understand that he turned to you at one point and recognized you as a former foreign minister. Could you tell us about that exchange?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Well, yes. I mean, he asked who we were and when I told him it was me, of course he recognized me, and he said, what are you doing with these people?
So I told him we are trying to build a new Iraq, quite different from the Iraq he ruled over, a democratic Iraq that the human rights are guaranteed, the rule of law. And I asked him, why did you kill so many people; he said, you know, Iraq needed a firm but just ruler — I said but you’re not a just ruler at all, you are a despot, and you are responsible for thousands of innocent lives. And he said, well, I was, I was elected by the people. I said no, we completely dispute that. Your elections were stage managed. What you want to do in Iraq is we want to have real democracy.
JEFFREY BROWN: I understand that you and your colleagues also asked him about some of the other crimes of his reign, the chemical weapons against the Kurds, the invasion of Kuwait. Was he accepting responsibility for such things?
ADNAN PACHACHI: No, no, no. I mean, he accepted no responsibility and he tried to explain everything away, you know, and he just — he tried to justify everything he did.
JEFFREY BROWN: Justify how?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Well, saying that either these people were plotting against him or they were aiding outside enemies, or that this is just not true and things like that; he blamed everybody except himself obviously.
JEFFREY BROWN: Did he lead you to believe that he, himself, has been leading the resistance in Iraq?
ADNAN PACHACHI: I don’t know about that, but certainly his name was being used as a rallying point to some of the dissident elements.
JEFFREY BROWN: Did he appear to you to be lucid and in control — when he spoke to you, did he look you in the eye, for example?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Oh, yes, yes. He – at times he seemed to be lucid but at times he seemed a little incoherent. He was under tremendous strain, and I think he knew that the game was up, and that was the end as far as he was concerned.
JEFFREY BROWN: Do you think that his arrest now will lead to less resistance, or is it possible that in the short term there will be more?
ADNAN PACHACHI: In the immediate future there may be some more acts of violence, but I think in the long run his capture would help in stabilizing the situation.
JEFFREY BROWN: President Bush said today that now is a chance to seize the opportunity to have Iraq capable of governing itself. How does Saddam’s capture change the equation for those of you trying to form a government?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Well, I have personally called for reconciliation in the country. I emphasize the necessity to look forward, not looking at the past, look forward and try to get into the mainstream of political life in Iraq. All of the Iraqis who have been involved in one way or another with Saddam – except those of course who are implicated in crimes against humanity or war crimes and those who practice torture and all kinds of other things.
We emphasize also that the trial will be open with due process, right of appeal, with lawyers, habeas corpus and all the other guarantees, you know, to make it acceptable to the world, I mean, to have world standards, international standards of judicial propriety.
RAY SUAREZ: Okay. Adnan Pachachi, thank you very much for joining us.
ADNAN PACHACHI: Thank you. Bye.