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ABC News will review the Saddam tapes that prompted the House Intelligence Committee to re-open its investigation into the WMD programs in Iraq last month. The late-night news show Nightline will broadcast a special report, bumping a scheduled broadcast on premature births. Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz report that Bill Tierney has provided the tapes and the translations that he personally performed on them:
ABC News has obtained 12 hours of tape recordings of Saddam Hussein meeting with top aides during the 1990s, tapes apparently recorded in Baghdad's version of the Oval Office.
ABC News obtained the tapes from Bill Tierney, a former member of a United Nations inspection team who translated them for the FBI. Tierney said the U.S. government is wrong to keep these tapes and others secret from the public. "Because of my experience being in the inspections and being in the military, I knew the significance of these tapes when I heard them," says Tierney. U.S. officials have confirmed the tapes are authentic, and that they are among hundreds of hours of tapes Saddam recorded in his palace office.
One of the most dramatic moments in the 12 hours of recordings comes when Saddam predicts — during a meeting in the mid 1990s — a terrorist attack on the United States. "Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before August 2 and told the British as well … that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction." Saddam goes on to say such attacks would be difficult to stop. "In the future, what would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" But he adds that Iraq would never do such a thing. "This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq."
These tapes do not necessarily provide the "smoking gun" that some have speculated, at least not from ABC's initial report or the analysis provided by Charles Duelfer. The recordings show that Saddam and his henchmen actively hid their WMD programs from UN inspectors, and also show that he had no intention of getting rid of them if he could help it. Duelfer notes that the tapes demonstrate Saddam's commitment to retaining or rebuilding his capacity to strike with the world's deadliest weapons, which makes the containment strategy something of a band-aid even without the extensive cheating proven from Syria, Germany, France, and Russia that had rendered it a sham.
I will be watching Nightline carefully tonight. If nothing else, this shows the importance of translating the mounds of extant papers and recordings captured in the liberation of Iraq. Hopefully, the Exempt Media will start covering this more extensively -- and kudos to ABC for breaking away from the pack and giving this high-profile exposure.Sphere It View blog reactions
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