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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Interview with Jerrold Post, Jesse Jackson

Aired September 26, 2002 - 12:40   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Saddam Hussein has given the world's psychologists many years of tantalizing behavior to puzzle over, and one expert has concluded this -- quote -- "while he is psychologically in touch with reality, he is often politically out of touch with reality."
The expert is Dr. Jerrold Post, he is a terrorist profiler, professor of psychiatry here at George Washington University, a former profiler for the CIA -- Dr. Post, thanks for joining us.

What do you mean with that, "he is often politically out of touch with reality"?

DR. JERROLD POST, FORMER CIA PROFILER: Well, one of the real problems is, he is surrounded by a group of sycophants who, for good reason, are afraid to criticize him, and in effect tell him what he wants to hear, rather than what he needs to hear, and this can have very alarming consequences in terms of his overestimating his chances, underestimating the forces allayed against him, and so forth.

BLITZER: In other words, if someone tells him something he is not happy with, he either takes out a pistol and kills them, or he has somebody else do that.

POST: That's right, and the stories are -- are numerous, so that everyone is really quite terrified of -- in any way, criticizing their lord and master.

BLITZER: You don't want to be messenger of bad news to Saddam Hussein.

What about -- I raised this yesterday in our first program, this whole penchant that he has for hygiene -- he doesn't want anybody, really, to touch him. What do you know about that?

POST: Well, this probably is associated with a very paranoid attitude on his behalf. He also has people testing his food, he doesn't sleep in the same place on two successive nights.

Now, of course, you don't have to be paranoid to believe people are out to get him at this point, but I think his alertness is really magnified, he is extremely vigilant, and the former sources of support are all vulnerable now. His family has betrayed him in many ways, the military has had numerous coups, three of the five tribes he most counted on precipitated coups as well, so he is feeling much more besieged. BLITZER: Yes, he is from this town Tikrit in Iraq, it is a small Tikriti clan, basically, that he controls, and that controls much of the country. There is one thought in the U.S. military, if you destroy the Tikriti clan, in effect, you can destroy Saddam Hussein.

POST: I don't think that's really accurate. In the first place, he has turned back to his Ba'ath loyalists, and in terms of the vulnerabilities in the clans, he has dispersed members in terms of senior military positions, so they are no long are able to -- he is really guarded against them. But the other thing to note is, this is a much more sophisticated person than he was, in...

BLITZER: Why do you say that, why is he more sophisticated now?

POST: Well, he was really startled by the unanimity of the Arab world against him in the coalition. He has...

BLITZER: A dozen years ago.

POST: Right. A dozen years ago. He has worked assiduously to mend those breaches, with United Arab Emirates, he has established a free trade zone, there is a major rapprochement with Syria, who had long time rivalry for leadership of the Ba'ath party, even with Saudi Arabia there has been some softening, with Iran, although they have their long enmity, there are places in common.

BLITZER: So, what's point -- he is beginning to think that he is invincible again?

POST: Well, no, but it is much more of issue for us now, in terms of being able to array the forces against him which we were able to -- which President George Bush was able to accomplish...

BLITZER: You have studied this man's mind for many, many years. If he is going down, and the U.S. is moving massively against him, will he do what he didn't do a dozen years ago, namely unleash weapons of mass destruction?

POST: I'm very concerned about that. This man, in the first place, is not a martyr, he is the quintessential survivor, and he will to-and-fro, retreat as needed, but when he is backed into a corner, he gets very, very dangerous, and can lash out, as he did at the end of the last conflict with setting the Kuwaiti oil fields...

BLITZER: Hundreds of oil fields were set ablaze.

POST: It was really an act of real vengeance, and final way out. What he -- now, does he believe now that he is -- that we are out to get him?

You don't have to be psychotic to believe we are out to get him. This has been announced as declaratory policy, and I see this as a very dangerous possibility.

BLITZER: All right, Dr. Post, as usual thanks for that analysis. Appreciate it very much. Let's go one-on-one now with another prominent critic of the president's policy on Iraq, the Reverend Jesse Jackson is joining us now, live from Chicago -- Reverend Jackson, thanks for joining us. So what do you make of that analysis of Saddam Hussein, that this guy is potentially capable of unleashing weapons of mass destruction, if he sees he is about to go down?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW COALITION: One of the dangers of announcing over and over again you are going to attack him, he will not be sitting there crocheting, waiting for us to arrive. He will fight back in some way. My concern is that we have the unfinished business of the Taliban and al Qaeda. That is who hit us September 11. There are, perhaps, cells of al Qaeda already in our country. That is what the Buffalo exposure was about.

Then, we have the Israeli-Palestinian tension, with Israel resisting U.N. resolutions. The Persian Gulf nervous, now we are offering to take on Iraq. This could be divisive, dangerous, diversionary war.

BLITZER: But Reverend Jackson -- you have been there, Reverend Jackson. You know the Iraqis, you have seen what's going on, you have seen the human rights abuses documented by Amnesty International. You know the record of Saddam Hussein. Aren't you concerned about what he is capable of doing against U.S. interests?

JACKSON: Well, he has never attacked the U.S., and he is less capable today than he was 12 years ago.

BLITZER: When you say he has never attacked...

JACKSON: For -- for -- for...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on, Reverend Jackson -- Reverend Jackson, did he not order an assassination attempt against the first President Bush when he was visiting Kuwait in 1993?

JACKSON: Well, I do not know, and -- except that was -- an awful thing. This is not a good guy. I mean, face it. Having said that, we have been able to take other nations with weapons of mass destruction, and use mutual deterrents to hem them up.

We have 40 percent of their airspace right now under U.S. flight zones, and we expanded the fly zone. In fact, he is less capable of hitting us today than he ever was before.

We are going from a coalition to stop al Qaeda, and that unfinished business, to a divisive move that destroys the coalition, and a dangerous war game without an end in sight.

BLITZER: All right. Let me read to you an e-mail we just got in from Sylvia in Nashville, Tennessee. She wants you to answer this, if you can. "If the president had attempted to take out al Qaeda before 9/11, the country would have been in an uproar. Now they can't blame him enough for not preventing the attacks. Will this be the case with Iraq? Does Saddam need to cause another catastrophe before we take him out?"

JACKSON: People are driven by information. We need to be led, and not ruled. If people have good information, they will fight to protect their interests. Before September 11, Taliban were our allies -- Mr. Powell took $65 million to the Taliban May a year ago, and they were our allies fighting drugs.

So we wouldn't have hit our allies before September 11. Only after September 11 was the public apprised of just how dangerous these forces were. That is why we knew who to hit three weeks after we had been hit September 11.

BLITZER: Let me give you another e-mail. This from Ephraim in Dana Point, California.

"I am amazed at how Senator Tom Daschle handled himself on the Senate floor. He took a statement out of context to twist it for his own political slant. Senator Daschle embarrassed himself and the only apology that is owed is his to the American people for having to watch his tirade."

What did you make of that whole exchange yesterday, between Daschle and the White House?

JACKSON: Well, I think that when Mr. Bush makes this matter good guys are -- are with me and bad guys, or evil guys are against me, some sense -- those who want to deliberate are somehow less committed, that somehow those Senate veteran patriots in that Senate are less committed to security and peace that he is, is not right.

And I think that it casts a light of dispersion upon the integrity, and that is why Mr. Daschle fought back. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, to engage in arm-twisting diplomacy, should not challenge people's integrity as we seek the liberation or -- for the best judgment to stop any further attacks upon our country.

BLITZER: Reverend Jesse Jackson in Chicago, thanks for joining us.

JACKSON: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Up next -- thank you.

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