Saddam's Attorney Says Iraqi Leader Not Found in Spider Hole
Interrogations Ignored WMDs
06/16/05 "ABC" - - Saddam Hussein's lead Iraqi lawyer Kaleel Dolami recently sat down with ABC News' Carolyn Durand and Mohammed Ajlouni in Amman, Jordan. Hussein's Jordanian lawyer, Ziad Al Khasawneh, was also present.
The following report is exclusive to ABCNEWS.com. Dolami would not agree to an on camera or audio interview.
Dolami talks about Saddam's allegations of torture, the dictator's contention that he was not captured in the "spider hole" and how curious U.S. interrogators have been about his purported weapons of mass destruction.
Q: I understand Saddam has been writing. Is he writing his memoirs, a book, keeping diaries?
A: He's not writing his memoirs, however he is writing poetry, fiction in jail. He has been given a copy of the Geneva convention and he studies that and the Iraqi law.
Q: Take me back to the day when he was arrested. What has Saddam told you happened that day? Has he ever been tortured?
A: He was arrested at a friend's home when he was praying. He was not inside the hole. The owner told the Americans he was there. He was drugged. He was beaten the first two days by a translator and an American soldier when he was arrested. They beat him in the face, they broke his leg, they whipped him. His left leg was broken by the people that arrested him. The president has no recollection of being in the hole. He thinks they put him in the hole. When you see the pictures of the doctor examing his cheeks it was because the beating of the face.
[Khasawneh interjects:] The deputy president was also tortured, for 25 days. They put him in a very hot room, without air conditioning. Then the slowly dropped small droplets of cold water on him and they beat [him] up.
Q: Tell me about his daily life, what he does besides writing, does he exercise?
A: He reads the Koran, he prays, he writes, he has one and 1/2 hours of exercise outside in the morning and another hour and a 1/2 in the evening.
Q: Has he been tortured since he's been in jail, since those two days at the beginning you mentioned?
A: No they don't abuse him in jail.
Q: Does he talk about his sons and daughters?
A: He doesn't talk about his sons and he seldom asks about his daughters. The first time I asked him if he wanted to give a message to his family he said he wanted to send a message to his Iraqi family and his Arab family, not specifically his personal family.
He asks me about people he knows, friends and he sends his regards to them.
Q: What has he said to his family when he has contacted them?
A: He sends them letters. [Al Khasawneh declined to elaborate. He either didn't want to answer or didn't know the contents of what he sent to his family.]
Q: Is he heartened by the Iraqi insurgency?
A: He doesn't know about the insurgency.
Q: What is the biggest misperception about Saddam?
A: That he was not caught in that hole. Now the Americans should understand that even if the Iraqis hated him before, he's become a hero.
Q: Has he been in the same place since he's been arrested?
A: No they move him around. I don't know how many times.
Q: Has he ever been met by any senior U.S. officials privately? Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, any one else?
Q: How long are your visits with him? A: The first visit was 4 and 1/2 hours, the second visit was 6 hours the third was 2 1/2 hours.
Q: What else does he ask you about during your visits?
A: He always asks what's happening in the international arena. He always asks about the Palestinian people. He was happy that the Spanish troops were pulled out of Iraq and was pleased that Aznar was not re-elected.
He wanted Bush to win the election because he believed America would be thrown into further chaos. He believes Americans would be hated more with Bush as head of state.
He asked if [Arab League's secretary-general] Amr Moussa is taking steps towards the Iraqi occupation.
The president was happy about Chirac's statements that they opened the gates of hell by invading Iraq and he asks what is safer, Iraq today or when he was ruling.
He says now there's terrorism all over the world when he was ruling there wasn't.
Q: What does he think about the new Iraqi leaders?
A: He believes the Americans brought the Iranians to rule Iraq. He thinks the Americans have imposed leadership on the Iraqis. Saddam still believes he is the legal leader of Iraq.
Q: What does he think of the Iraqi tribunal?
A: He believes he will not be served justice. He's optimistic and believes he's innocent. He's sure he's innocent but he doesn't think he will get a fair trial.
Q: What do you spend most of your time discussing when you are with him?
A: Mostly legal discussions.
Q: How do you feel about him as a person now that you are representing him?
A: I consider him and respect him as I would my father. I was a normal citizen but now I'm loyal to him after I saw the abuses of the American military.
Q: Tell me about the personal threats to you.
A: I live in constant danger. I have daily threats on my life. I was subject to many assassination attempts, three times. What makes it more dangerous is the Americans attacked my home on April 15th. The U.S. Marines took from my home the equivalent of $51,000 in cash and gold. I had sold my home and I had money in the house. I have witnesses who saw this and I can show you documents. Now they have put me on top of the list as the person to be eliminated.
Q: Who do you believe is trying to have you eliminated?
A: I don't want to name them by name but people related to the new government.
Q: Are you getting protection?
A: No. None. I have asked for Iraqi police protection. They said no. I have asked for an armed bodyguard they said no. Many times I have asked the Americans. What's dangerous is that people perceived that I was receiving protection --that I was under some form of protection. What frightens me is people now know that I am not under protection by the Americans. I would like the Americans to give me back my property and apologize.
Q: With all these threats, why continue?
A: I will not stop doing it because I am defending my country by defending him. Plus, I'm a lawyer and I have a duty to defend him.
Q: Tell me about the procedure you go through when you want to see him and how easy is it to get access?
A: I make a request to the court. The court informs the Americans and then they call me when I can see him.
Q: How long after you make the request?
A: It took me three months to see him after the first request, two months to see him after the second request, the third time it took three weeks.
Q: Tell me about the visit last weekend when we saw you on camera?
A: I had a scheduled meeting with him but they didn't tell me he was going to be interrogated. I was not told in advance. I had no warning, no time to prepare. I was surprised.
Q: What does Saddam want the Americans to know from your conversations with him?
A: He wishes the Americans know how much abuse and destruction they brought to Iraq. He's wishful the Americans will review what their government has done. We are not the enemies of the American people or the American government.
Saddam tells me that if they just wanted to get rid of him they would have done what they did to Noriega. But he believes the Americans have a bigger plan. The president says the Americans have a much wider intention to rule the area of the Middle East and recreate the world map.
On their agenda is the control of the Middle East, and therefore the world.
Second he believes they want to control the oil supplies and to protect Israel.
The president believes we were never a threat to U.S. interests in the area and they simply closed all negotiations.
The president says Americans could have served its interests much more by keeping him and his government in office rather than the situation now. The president wishes the Americans would respect the will of the Iraqi people and international law.
Q: What has Saddam Hussein said about weapons of mass destruction and have you been interrogated about them?
A: Saddam Hussein has never been interrogated about WMD. Saddam tells me he thinks they haven't asked him about it because it's all a lie. They know there wasn't any WMD and that's why they've never questioned him about it.
Q: How many times have you been present when he's been interrogated?
A: Just once this last Sunday.
Q: Have you been told by the Americans or the Iraqi special tribunal a date for Saddam's trial?
Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A: Yes. As a lawyer for Saddam Hussein I ask that you respect the Geneva Convention and provide protection to the lawyers in Iraq. Without that the lawyers will not be able to do their jobs. When the Americans attacked my home it was a threat to all lawyers in Iraq.
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