Paranoid Saddam

One interesting aspect of the recently released CIA report that, once again, made it clear that Iraq did not have WMDs is that we now know that even Saddam Hussein's top lieutenants didn't know that there were no WMDs at all. This radically changes the picture of Saddam as an out-of-touch leader manipulated by underlings who were too afraid to tell him the truth:

Only Hussein Had Full Picture:

For example, many in the U.S. intelligence community had believed that Hussein's sycophantic generals kept him in the dark about the state of Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs — that is, that the dictator was misled by associates who told him what he wanted to hear.


Far from being misinformed, the report says, Hussein was micromanaging Iraq's weapons policy himself and kept even his most loyal aides from gaining a clear picture of what was going on — and, more important, not going on — with the program.


"Saddam's centrality to the regime's political structure meant that he was the hub of Iraqi WMD policy and intent," the report concluded.


His paranoia and his fascination with science and technology "meant that control of WMD development and its deployment was never far from his touch," it said.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.