IGNACIO - Colorado's top FBI agent spoke Wednesday about an interrogation he helped conduct of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein - the first interview U.S. officials had with the dictator after his capture in December 2003.
Special Agent in Charge Jim Davis was the keynote speaker at a civil rights conference being held this week at the Sky Ute Conference Center in Ignacio.
American soldiers treated Hussein like any other insurgent, Davis said. They photographed him, fingerprinted him, collected his DNA and interviewed him.
"It was a pretty surreal experience," Davis said. "I don't think he was really accepting of his situation."
While being photographed, Hussein acted like it was a photo-op. But when he was asked to face the wall for a profile shot, it became clear to Hussein that he was being photographed for a mug shot.
"He wouldn't do it. He refused to turn. So I had to actually physically turn him to the side to take the picture," Davis said. "He didn't fight me, but he wasn't going to do it on his own."
As the ranking agent in the room, Davis agreed to interview Hussein. His primary goal was to get the dictator to talk, not divulge any major secrets such as where he hid the alleged weapons of mass destruction.
"He was very talkative, very engaged," Davis said. "We talked about the first (Gulf) war. We talked about the second (Gulf) war. We talked about his kids."
While Hussein didn't divulge any secrets, he did shed light on why he fought two wars with no chance of winning, Davis said.
The dictator said Americans don't understand what it is like to live in a country where the government doesn't have control. In America, the military is subservient to the government, but in Iraq, Hussein had to rule with an iron fist. If he deployed the military for a fight, they expected to fight; otherwise the men would sense weakness and return for him, Davis said.
Hussein's military was so badly beaten in the first Gulf War that he created a ruse about possessing weapons of mass destruction to maintain control, Davis said.
"He starts playing this shell game where he's telling everybody that he's got weapons of mass destruction," Davis said. "And he sold that extremely well. He sold it within his own military.
"Obviously, talking to that guy was fascinating," he said. "He was a monster. His kids were monsters."