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Iraqi official calls Saddam visit extraordinary

Iraqi Governing Council's Adnan Pachachi
Iraqi Governing Council's Adnan Pachachi

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein has been resigned to his fate, defiant and even sarcastic in the days since American forces captured him hiding in a hole, U.S. and Iraqi officials have said.

Adnan Pachachi, a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, has met with the ousted dictator and described the encounter Wednesday with CNN's Bill Hemmer.

HEMMER: Sir, I know you met face to face with Saddam Hussein. Just about 24 hours ago. What did you talk about with him, and what did you learn in that meeting?

PACHACHI: Well, we, of course, wanted, first of all, to make sure that it was him and not someone else. And then, when we were sure that [it] was him, some questions were asked. And he answered some of these questions.

And he was rather tired and haggard. And sometimes he seemed defiant or even, you know, unrepentant. Sometimes he seemed a little incoherent.

But it was important that we made it clear to him, we're not trying to enjoy his humiliation or crow about it.

But I asked him why did he invade Kuwait and [told] he should have seized an opportunity to withdraw when that opportunity was given to him.

And yes, well, he said, "We considered Kuwait to be part of Iraq."

I said, "No, but when your party came to power in 1963, you recognized the independence of Kuwait and renounced that claim."

He said, "Yes, that's true."

And then, I asked him, "Why did you have to use such cruelty and kill so many people in order to be in power?"

He said, "You know, Iraq needs a just and firm ruler."

I said, "But you're not a just ruler, you're a non-just ruler and rather cruel and despotic, and you caused the death of thousands of people. Was it worth it?" And he didn't answer, of course.

And then other people asked him some other questions about the mass graves, about Halabja [where Kurds were gased in 1988], about the wholesale killing of people in various parts of the country. And he tried to explain everything away, you know. Sometimes he was dismissive even. But he never acknowledged that he has made any mistake.

HEMMER: Did you or anyone else ask him about whether or not he has any ties right now to the insurgency that's under way in Iraq?

PACHACHI: No, we didn't ask him. It was really not a very long meeting. It was about half an hour.

HEMMER: How do you feel having met with him?

PACHACHI: Well, it was an extraordinary experience, of course. But, you know, here was this man who just a short time ago was on top of the world, so to speak, and then to see him in this state. You know this is a -- what do you call it? -- maybe poetic justice or whatever. But it's an extraordinary spectacle.

HEMMER: I know you met with U.S. civil administrator Paul Bremer a bit earlier today. What can you share with us quickly about your meeting today?

PACHACHI: Yes, we were discussing the law, the basic law for the transitional period. We had prepared -- we had gone quite a long way, and there are still a few things to be done, and he had some questions and some comments and ideas. Because under the agreement, which was concluded last month, we have -- we should consult all the time so that the draft law will be ready for approval before the end of February.


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