WASHINGTON (BP)–Twelve hours of audio tapes recorded in the office of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces during the mid-1990s and discovered by the CIA in Iraq indicate the former dictator entertained ongoing aspirations of acquiring weapons of mass destruction and even warned the United States of an upcoming terrorist attack.
“In the future, what would prevent a booby trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?” Hussein said on the tapes, as revealed by ABC’s “World News Tonight” Feb. 15.
The network obtained the tapes, apparently recorded during conversations between Hussein and his Cabinet, from Bill Tierney, a former member of a United Nations inspection team who translated them for the FBI, according to ABC News.
U.S. officials have confirmed the authenticity of the tapes, and a spokeswoman for John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, said information found in the transcripts was already known to intelligence officials and does not change their post-war analysis of Iraq’s weapons program. The State Department had no comment on the tapes.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R.-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News the tapes show Hussein “had a fixation on weapons of mass destruction and he had a fixation on hiding what he was doing from the U.N. inspectors.” Hoekstra added that more than 35,000 boxes of tapes recorded during Hussein’s rule could reveal more urgent information if they were translated and studied.
“Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans,” Hussein said on the tapes from August 1995, although he added that an attack would come from outside his nation.
“This story is coming, but not from Iraq,” he said.
Also on the tapes, a meeting with Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz included talk of how easy WMDs would be to concoct.
“Sir, the biological is very easy to make,” Aziz said, according to ABC News. “It’s so simple that any biologist can make a bottle of germs and drop it into a water tower and kill 100,000. This is not done by a state. No need to accuse a state. An individual can do it.”
Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, who was in charge of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction efforts, is heard on the tape discussing attempts to hide progress from U.N. inspectors.
“We did not reveal all that we have,” Kamel said. “Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct.”
Charles Duelfer, who led the official U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq following the invasion in 2003, told ABC News the tapes confirm extensive deception but do not provide proof that such weapons remained hidden in the country when the war began.
“What they do is support the conclusion in the report, which we made in the last couple of years, that the regime had the intention of building and rebuilding weapons of mass destruction, when circumstances permitted,” he said.
The tapes, though not groundbreaking, do serve as additional evidence that Hussein had not abandoned his desire for inflicting harm on masses of people, whether in his own nation or elsewhere.
“What the tapes show is that between the first gulf war and the second gulf war, Saddam Hussein had not lost his appetite for, or interest in, weapons of mass destruction,” Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project, an advocacy group working to slow the spread of weapons of mass destruction, told NBC News. “To the contrary, he was almost obsessed by them.”