Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Declassified - The Hunt for Saddam. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 26, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:23] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- me straight. That's what straightened me back out. To know that he was okay.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN HOST: As a former FBI agent and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I had oversight of all 16 of our nation's intelligence agencies. My name is Mike Rogers. I had access to classified information gathered by our operatives. People who risk ted everything for the United States and our families. You don't know their faces or their names. You don't know the real stories from the people who live with fear and the pressure. Until now.
JEFF: Every military force on the ground was looking for Saddam Hussein.
MADDOY: I get orders that I'm going to go join this task force I had never heard of.
DIRECTOR: To do?
MADDOY: I didn't know .
HICKEY: You can't just sit back behind walls and expect the information to come to you. You've got to go out and get it.
JEFF: We would get information that was bad information. And then innocent people get killed on sides.
COL. JAMES B. HICKEY: We knew there was a degree of professionalism that we were facing. And it was deadly.
MADDOY: We could tell when someone was lying, and we'd confront them with those lies.
JEFF: Everybody you talk to has a piece of information that you may not have known that can become of value later.
MADDOY: Time was running out but I would not stop looking for Saddam.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under President's order, coalition forces began the ground war to disarm Iraq and liberate the Iraqi people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our effort to disarm Iraq and dismantle the Iraqi regime is fully underway.
GARY GRECO, SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICE, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: The Iraqi operation started with the airstrikes in March. The ground campaign began late March, early April. I believe the last time we saw Saddam was April 9th in the infamous film clip of him moving down the streets in downtown Baghdad. We pulled down the statue of Saddam. But in order to have a decisive military victory, we needed the real Saddam. We needed Saddam Hussein.
HICKEY: The first brigade was a large unit with thousands of soldiers. And the mission of the brigade was establishing stability. The challenge to that was dealing with the physical reality of an armed insurgency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. military estimates there are between 4,000 and 5,000 mid-level Ba'athist opposition fighters.
[ bleep ]
HICKEY: One of my (boat) was ambushed on the (INAUDIBLE) three American soldiers were killed.
At the same time, it was part of our duty to assist the special operations command. An elite assault on it. Their focus was really (A Treaties) high valued targets.
BROOKS: Coalition governments have identified a list of key regime leaders. 55 individuals who may be pursued, killed or captured.
HICKEY: The special operations forced us to go into the most dangerous target and do it at zero to minimal casualty because of their skills. These are extraordinarily gifted and trained men. You did not want to be the objective of their attention.
JEFF : In 2003, the organization I was assigned to, I was deployed to Iraq to hunt down and capture the deck of cards. The priority being Saddam Hussein.
DIRECTOR: What was your job?
JEFF: Going out, conducting raids. Sometimes it was going after people in the deck of cards. Sometimes it was going after people that were known associates of the deck of cards.
HICKEY: You can't be on the offense unless you understand the enemy in this context. Especially the people. But you can't just sit back behind walls and expect the information to come to you. You've got to go out and get it.
JEFF: We would get information that was bad information. They would identify a location, there would be nothing there. The wrong individual, the individual was someone that someone else disliked for whatever reason. It's frustrating. Because you just destroyed someone's house. They're saying they're sleeping and next thing you know, they got guys running on through their house sleeping. People wanting to defend their families. They may not be guilty of anything. And then innocent people get killed on both sides.
For the amount of detainees we were pulling off target, we needed someone that could conduct the interrogations to ensure we were getting information we wanted.
ERIC MADDOY: In 2003, i was a staff sergeant in the United States army. I was a trained interrogator but I had never actually conducted a real, live interrogation. The war's going on for three months, and I get orders that I'm going to go join this task force I'd never heard of.
DIRECTOR: To do?
MADDOY: I didn't know but I packed my bags and they flew me to Tikrit. And I am picked up by these soldiers with beards. Soldiers don't have beards.
JEFF: We didn't know Eric. Hadn't worked with him previously, didn't train with him. N He didn't really know what was going on on targets. I mean, initially, it was a bumpy road.
MADDOY: Jeff was not happy to see me. Jeff wasn't happy to see anybody. Jeff was not a trained interrogator. Jeff's a soldier. Jeff had mission. He had prisoners that he wanted to get interrogated so he and I drove to this U.S. Army prison. There were hundreds of prisoners. Brought the first prisoner down. We sat him down. And Jeff looks at me, and he goes, "So how are we going to do this?" I was a new interrogator. I did not have a plan but Jeff and I looked at each other, and we started asking questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Declassified: Untold stories of American spies is brought to you by Lexus. Turn every ride into a thrill ride with the Lexus performance line.
MADDOY: I was a trained interrogator deployed to Iraq to work with a taskforce that was responsible for tracking down everyone on the deck of cards, specifically Saddam Hussein.
I went to Tikrit, his hometown. But Ii had never actually conducted a real, live interrogation. I didn't really feel like I knew what I was doing at all. But I learned very quickly.
JEFF: In the beginning, we would go In the room with Eric, the translator and the detainee. And Eric would begin questioning and talking to the individual. As the interrogator, I worked for a commander, I bring in the information that helps him make better decisions and to get back information. I was learning how to get inside the minds of these prisoners and break them down. When I'm talking about breaking a prisoner, it has nothing to do with physical contact of any kind. It has to do with breaking their previous decision of not cooperating with me to provide me information, and now they choose to provide me that information. That's a break.
JEFF: As questions were being asked and answered, every now and then I might pass him a note to highlight on a topic that was brought up or time the individual was lying, based off of what happened on the operation.
MADDOY: Jeff and I were figuring out how to ask good questions. We could tell when someone was lying, and we were beginning to confront them with those lies.
JEFF: We were -- it was to follow each other mentally without talking. He knew what I needed. So, yeah, we worked really well together.
MADDOY: We interrogate all night. And then maybe 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, we'd sit down and we would talk about it. And we talk about it nonstop.
JEFF: And it became our big piece of our day to day life of using those interrogations to conduct operations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. troops carried out predawn raids in Saddam Hussein's hometown. The army says several suspects were arrested in Tikrit.
MADDOY: By September, Jeff and I have gone beyond just determining the guilt or innocence of the prisoners that we brought in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: : Allah Wakbarr
MADDOY: I was trying to get information that would lead to an insurgent member, a current bad guy or a former regime official.
DIRECTOR: Did anybody think that Saddam Hussein was in Tikrit at this time?
MADDOY: Nobody thought Saddam Hussein was in Tikrit because we had looked through the whole town. We've gone on hundreds and thousands of raids. We'd been through all the houses. And he wasn't there.
JEFF: We, kind of, , put finding Saddam not so much on the back burner but it really got -- tired of chasing Santa Claus. And what I mean by that is you would always have reporting that "Saddam was here. Saddam was there." So instead of looking for that Santa Claus, We started looking for what we knew to be facts.
MADDOY: The current insurgency was what I saw killing our soldiers. And that to me was, like, "We're going after the real bad guys."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. calls this Operation Iraqi Freedom. The war of liberation, they say, to make Iraq's people free. Commanders acknowledged, the resistance has been unexpectedlyfierce.
[ Gunfire ]
HICKEY: By this phase of the campaign, we tactically were doing everything we had ever been trained to do to defeat this insurgency. The way they were using land mines and IEDS was tactically correct. So we knew there was a degree of professionalism that we were facing and it was deadly.
GRECO: The Iraqi battle space was a complex environment. Learning the human terrain was as important, if not more important than understanding the physical terrain.
HICKEY: The key to understanding the area in emerging threats was to maintain communcaruibs with the local inhabitants. Listen to them, spend a lot of time with them, gather information.
JEFF: Every individual you talk to can give you something you didn't know. That was a trick Eric figured out. That everybody you talk to has a piece of information that you may not have known. That if you can store it, it can become value later.
MADDOY: There's no way to know how critical all the details are that I get from interrogations. But I do remember them all. You never know till much later what details really matter. Jeff and I worked for a couple of months, and these prisoners are providing us information. And I started to get a feel for Tikrit. And I realized, every person has a life, and they have a family, and they live in a neighborhood, and they're part of a tribe. And they go to a certain mosque. That's, like. these family's kids go to this elementary school. That means they're going to have connections to other families that go to that elementary school. It all ties in, so when the local Iraqi police says, "Hey, we got this guy," a month ago we would have said, "So what?" Now, we're, like, "Oh, that's a cousin of so-and-so, bring him in."
JEFF: Were we catching Saddam? No, but were we getting closer in painting a picture of how to get to him? Yes. And we weren't getting locations, we weren't getting places but we were getting pieces of a puzzle that let everybody understand that nobody was going to know where he was until we found the right people.
After several hundred interrogations, these prisoners, they started talking about their insurgency groups. They started popping up the names of al-Muslits. I don't know why. They just kept popping up in the insurgency. So, Jeff and I, we were interested in this al-Muslit group. September 5th, they brought in a guy, Nasser Yassin Omar al- Muslit.
He was an inner-circle bodyguard for Saddam Hussein. And we just talked to him all night. Nasser Yassin breaks and laid out Saddam's inner circle for us.
GRECO: Saddam had a huge security apparatus surrounding him. You know, multiple layers, and all of these bodyguards played a role.
MADDOY: He laid out 28 out of the 32 inner circle bodyguards for Saddam Hussein. In this al-Muslit group, filtered through all levels of the bodyguard network. And we started to realize, maybe this is not just about the insurgency. It's about Saddam Hussein in the previous leadership structure.
GRECO: In the Middle East, tribal and family relationships are paramount to how business gets done. The Muslit clan was in closed alliance with Saddam's family. Many of us compared this to what Hollywood would show as an organized crime gang, where it's built around key families and familiar relationships. So we, sort of, used that model to try and talk about it, and indeed, that's what we saw.
JEFF: We realized that these individuals were in and around the Tikrit area. These individuals were close to Saddam at one time. So we assumed they would at least know key things on how to find Saddam.
MADDOY: That was the first time I thought we may have something.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without a body, people wonder when they'll ever be able to put Saddam's ghost to rest, and how long will he remain embarrassing, unfinished business for the United States, like many of their other most wanted?
HICKEY: I remember seeing black and white portraits of Saddam Hussein in the living rooms of the people's homes. Still displaying loyalty. That was an indicator to me that they sensed Saddam was still out there.
JEFF: Every military force on the ground was looking for Saddam Hussein but Eric and I realized nobody was going to know where he was until we found the right people.
MADDOY: In order to find Saddam Hussein, we were going after this insurgency, but we didn't know who was in charge of the insurgency. But Jeff and I, were starting to see a lot of these al-Muslits who were involved in the insurgency. They brought in a guy Nasser Yassin Omar al-Muslit. Nasser Yassin breaks and laid out 28 out of the 32 inner-circle bodyguards for Saddam. Haleel Ibrahim, Radman Ibrahim and Sulwan Ibrahi, Mohammad Ibrahim, all from this al-Muslit family.
I'm thinking about who's running this insurgency? And I started to realize, it was all connected to this family, these al-Muslits. To now, if we find anybody who's related, named al-Muslit, married to an al-Muslit, anything, that's where we start focusing our time. We were al-Muslit focused. So, we're bringin in all these people. And Jeff and I figured out a very clear way to get these prisoners to open up and start providing us information. We're really running. And then it comes in to early October, and Jeff's leaving.
JEFF: Our rotation was up. We were replaced by another element from the organization. And they come in and we flew home.
MADDOY: As soon as the new team showed up, I was introduced to their intelligence analyst. The analyst was there to collect information that could lead to the capture of high-valued targets. And I told this team, "Listen, there's a team of bodyguards. And I think they're very powerful, controlling this insurgency." So what I started doing is charting my information out on pieces of paper. Now, the focal point was the al-Muslits. The new analysts love charts. He'd go to the computer and put it all into a computerized-link diagram.
And two weeks into the new team being there, the new commander, Bam- Bam says "Eric, can we go arrest these guys?" I thought you'd never ask. The team started going on raids. To get these al-Muslits, we were going after my bad guys now. And we have told the guards, "Anybody says the word "al-Muslit, call us." And November 7, get a call from the informants that "We know where of Radman is." Radman al-Muslit. And I had always deemed him extremely so important because he was so close to Saddam during the regime. And we captured the guy. But a team from Baghdad came in helicopters. And they flew him straight to Baghdad. So I never set eyes on Radman.
But when they captured Radman, they captured his 18-year-old son as well. I referred to him as "Baby" Radman. They said "You got 48 hours with this kid. And then you're releasing him." Being an interrogator, you've got to have a strategy. I'm not trying to scare them, I'm not trying to intimidate them. I'm trying to influence them to provide me the intelligence which is inside their brain. They don't know what they know.
So, I started talking to Baby Radman. He was very defensive of his dad. So I would press, press, press on his dad, like, talk, talk, talk about his dad. And then I would go, "Does your dad have any brothers?" And this kid looked at it as a release valve, like, "Oh, yes. Talk about some other than my dad." Aand we went through every single brother. And one of the brothers that we talked about was Mohammad Ibrahim.
Mohammad Ibrahim al Omar al-Muslit. Another -- one of Saddam Hussein's inner-circle bodyguard. And we very strongly felt that he was leading the insurgency throughout Tikrit. Then I said "I want this Mohammad Ibrahim. Will you help me find him?" He said, "Yes. My uncle? He's got these buddies he's always with." I said, "Who?" He says, "The business partners and his driver. Basim Latif" And I realized, I said "All right. Here we go." So, I went to Bam-bam and I said, "Listen, I know Mohammad
ibrahim's driver is not wanted. But I think he's valuable. I think he can take us to Mohammad Ibrahim and I've got to have him arrested. " So, Bam-bam arrested Basim Latif, the driver of Mohammad Ibrahim.
So I start interrogating Basim Latif and he said "Why do you want my boss? Why are you so interested in Mohammed Ibrahim?" And I told him, "Because he's running the insurgency." And then he said, "You have no idea what you're talking about." He said "Mohammad Ibrahim's never ordered a single attack." He said "There's only one person that orders the attacks. There's only one person that's ever ordered the attacks, and it's the President. Saddam Hussein."
I knew at that moment we were hunting Saddam. I knew we were finally, really hunting him, and we had a chance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Army bulldozers are smashing Saddam Hussein's larger-than-life portrait in an apparent attempt to loosen his political grip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But why is it so hard to find him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a lot of experience running to ground. He had a lot of years to prepare, and he's got a very big country to hide in.
[22:33:15] GARY GRECO, SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Saddam had built such this cult around himself, that he was the symbol of Iraqi resistance. And in the end, he was the key high-value target.
ERIC MADDOX, FORMER INTERREGATOR: So, my interrogation with Muhammad Ibrahim's driver (INAUDIBLE) had gone on several hours, but eventually, he broke. And he told me, there's only one person that orders the attacks, and that's The President. And that's what they call Saddam, The President. I knew at that moment we were hunting Saddam. I knew we were finally, really hunting him, and we had a chance. I felt very strongly that Saddam Hussein was in the area. It was Saddam's hometown.
I felt like he was in contact with Muhammad Ibrahim, and Muhammad Ibrahim might be a route to Saddam. But we're running out of time to find Muhammad Ibrahim, because my tour is up. My - I was supposed to be there for six months, now it's the beginning of December, and I was about to leave. My flight was leaving the country on December 13th, but I didn't care. I'm not stopping. (INAUDIBLE) didn't know Muhammad Ibrahim's exact location, but he had several safe houses Muhammad Ibrahim, and he gave us all of those locations. It was go time.
[22:34:43] COL. JAMES HICKEY, RETIRED U.S. ARMY COLONEL: And that made sense, because the enemy we are dealing with then was networked across the countryside in cells from one family group to another family group. And sometimes you would gather information about one area in the most unlikely places.
MADDOX: We conducted five simultaneous raids on all of the Muhammad Ibrahim safe houses. Muhammad Ibrahim was not located at any of them. He wasn't there. But Muhammad Ibrahim's 20-year-old son was there. So, I start interrogating Muhammad Ibrahim's son about his dad. And he tells me, "My dad was at
the house two hours before you all came." And I'm done. I'm done. Who's supposed to know where he went? Who would know? I've got everyone leading up to a moment in time in a two-hour gap. He's gone. We'd exhausted every target to find Muhammad Ibrahim.
I was hoping the son could give me his next spot, so I'm just talking to him, looking for a lead. I'm looking for a clue, and I talked to him all night. I mean, all night. I can't think of anything. I'm talking, I'm talking, I'm talking. Then I asked him, what does your dad do for fun? What are his hobbies? And he said, "They go fishing." And I said, "Where do - where do they fish?" He said in Samarra. I said, "Where?" "Along the river." I said, "Where?" He said, "They just built this pond." And I said, "Why would - why would they build a pond?" He goes, "I don't know. They just built a pond." And it came to me. August. Jeff and I are interrogating Saddam Hussein's cook.
JEFF, FORMER OPERATOR: The individual was picked up on a hit. Nobody knew who he was. During the process of conducting interrogations, it was identified that he was a former chef. And one of the things we'd learned in that conversation was every time Saddam showed up, he cooked a special meal. And we asked what that special meal was, and it was masgouf.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's that?
JEFF: It's a fish that's raised in fish farms in Iraq.
MADDOX: The kid said, they had this fishpond built in the middle of a war? Why would you do that? Unless you're stocking fish for the guy who can't be going to the store to get fish. At that point, it wasn't just a hunch. We had to go to that pond. Headquarters in Baghdad is going to raid the fishpond, and I was convinced we were getting close to Saddam, but for me to find him, I've got to have Muhammad Ibrahim.
Night comes, and I was told, whatever happened at the fishpond, that would be my last night in at Tikrit. They conducted the raid, and captured two guys. 20 minutes later, bam-bam calls back on the radio. And he says it's a dry hole. He says we got two fishermen. And they told me, they said, "Listen, you're done.
You're going back to Baghdad for your last few days." And I knew time was running out, but I would not stop looking for Saddam.
[22:42:41] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to find Saddam Hussein. We have to bring him down. I mean, we have 130,000 troops there. They're trained in counterterrorism, many of them, and we have not done that.
[22:42:51] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're supposed to be there for six months, my assignment was almost up, but I didn't care. I would not stop looking for Saddam. I called one of the interrogators in Baghdad. I said, "Don't let the fishermen go. I'm coming tonight." I needed to prove what they were. There's no way two guys are sticking around in the middle of nowhere next to a fishpond, fishing at one o'clock in the morning. That night, I started my interrogations of the fishermen. Started talking to the first one.
So, he seemed kind of normal, actually. I was kind of worried. I started talking to the second fisherman, and I realized, these two fishermen have two different stories. And I went one hour and one hour and back and forth on these fisherman, kind of turned them against each other. It took 12 hours, and one of the fishermen finally says, "I work for Muhammad Ibrahim." He goes, "I just fish. I fish and put all the fish in the pond." I get him to understand Muhammad Ibrahim was a bad guy, and that working as his fisherman gets him in trouble. And he says, "Listen, my cousin, Muhammad Khudair is the deputy to Muhammad Ibrahim, they are always together."
He goes, "They left Samarra three days ago." Where did they go? He said, "They went to Baghdad." Got the exact location, exact house. So, I brought in an analyst from the task force team in Baghdad and said, "I got a target, Muhammad Ibrahim in Baghdad." And I know this is my last chance to find Muhammad Ibrahim and Saddam Hussein. They call about one o'clock and said, "We're bringing in the Muhammad Khudair prisoner. The guy who owns the house and three other people. They drive him in, they drop him off, I bring in the first prisoner, the one they said owned the house. I said, "What's your name?" he said, "Muhammad." "Muhammad what?" "Muhammad Khudair." OK. Quickly, quickly, quickly, two hours to get this guy to go. "I'm the deputy to Muhammad Ibrahim."
I'm like, "Good. Where is he?" He said, "He was at the house last night." I'm thinking, "Son of a bitch. It's a ghost. I missed him again." I was devastated. I asked him, "Where was he?" He said, "He was at the house." And I'm getting - I'm like, "Where is he? I know you know how powerful this - and I'm yelling and the linguist, my interpreter is going, "Mister!" He's saying he was at the house when the soldiers came. I'm like, "They don't miss anybody." I'm like, "Did they get him?" And I went to the guards, I'm like, "Who do we have? Who was brought in on this raid?" and I'm looking at three guys sitting on the ground, hoods on, hands behind their back. And I'm like, "Is Muhammad Ibrahim one of these guys?"
And I knew exactly what he was supposed to look like, John Travolta. He had a John Travolta chin. And I knew that I quick - I'm like running out of time. First hood. All right. Second hood, definitely not him. Third hood, I didn't even get it off his head, and I saw the chin. My entire tour in Tikrit was going to come down to my last two and a half hours. Me and Muhammad Ibrahim in a six by six room in Baghdad. We went into a mental chess game. He was denying his capabilities. And I was countering his moves. He would make a statement, "You give me too much credit, and I would tell him, "I didn't give you any credit."
And then I would take that opportunity and I would list off every one of his brothers and relatives and cousins, you know, al (muslits) that we captured. And I said, "They give you credit. They give you credit because you've ruin their lives. They'll spend the rest of their lives in prison unless you take us to Saddam. It's going to happen without you or with you. If it happens with you, all of your relatives walk. If it happens without you, you get nothing." And then he said to me, "If I tell you where Saddam Hussein is, they'll kill me." And I explained to him, "But you're they, you're the top one. You're the only person that doesn't have ramifications for giving up Saddam. Give him up, and you won't be the leader of the insurgency. You'll be the one that stood up to the plate, to the dictator. That will be you, and your family walks." And I know he was listening to me. I know he was. I had to leave at 7 o'clock, and they were banging on my door going -- I mean, 7 o'clock came. And they came in and said, "You're out, man. You've got to meet your manifest." And I told him, I said, "I'm leaving. You're going to die in here a prisoner, a terrorist, and you won't have another shot, because nobody knows what you can do, nobody knows what you can do. This is it." And he's like, "I can't do it." I said, "You're going to change your mind, and you're going to want to do it.
And when you're going to want to do it, you're going to make them come talk to you." And I said, "Go crazy, bang on the walls. Bang on the walls of this cell. Go nuts, and make them come talk to you." And I left. So, I went to my tent to pack my bags. A few minutes later, a colleague picks me up and is taking me to the flight line. And my buddy was like, "What did you do to your guy? The linguist sent a message that Muhammad Ibrahim's banging on the walls of his cell." And I jumped out of the truck, and I just told, Lee, I said, "Go hold that plane. He's going to give up Saddam Hussein."
And Lee is like, "I got it." You know, I ran back, got Muhammad Ibrahim out, and he declared that he would take us to Saddam Hussein right then. I got out the map, and he drew an exact location on the map, drew the sketch, said farmhouse in the village of Ad Dawr, which is the outskirts of Tikrit. He said, "We got to go. We got to go right now." And I went outside and I told the other interrogators, I said, "This is the map to Saddam Hussein." And they're like, "Dude, go get on the plane."
[22:54:25] MADDOX: Muhammad Ibrahim declared that he would take us to Saddam Hussein. He said, "We got to go. We got to go right now." And I told him, I said, "You're not going right now. You're going to go tonight." I got on that plane, and I left.
[22:54:45] HICKEY: And then the field phone rang. And it was the Commander of Special Operations Unit. He goes, "Well, the guy we're looking for, we picked up in Baghdad."
I go, "Really?" He says, yeah. I said, "You know what we're doing tonight? We're going after Saddam." I knew we had to move that night, because I think once that guy was captured, the word would eventually get back. You know, the reality is we didn't know what to expect. I mean, this was a difficult place, Ad-Dawr. It was the hometown of Saddam Hussein. Yes, there was going to be risks, so I expected a fight, a serious fight based upon lessons from other missions very similar to this.
I said, "Listen, when does the moon come up? 2100 hours. OK. Sunset is about 6:30." I wanted to be absolute blackout conditions, no illumination whatsoever when we get on to the objective. That would give us an advantage. And I also wanted to move fast. You understand the risks, but as a commander, you try to mitigate those risks through artful tactics, element of surprise, overwhelming force at the objective area, apache gunships, what have you. I mean, I had an armor brigade with every implement of war that you could imagine with incredibly courageous and skilled soldiers, operating with the most capable combat special operators in the world.
I had this sword that would do anything. The night was incredibly quiet. And by 1930 or 7:30 at night, the sun is set, it's completely blacked out. We were ready to go. So now, the assault force is moving towards what we called "the release point," in a high rate of speed. And everything is going like clockwork. No lights on. We're using our night-vision goggles. The first assault party went in, and special operations later knew there was a possibility of an underground facility. But the special operators didn't find anything on the objective and sort of walked off, and said probably a dry hole, and Dez Bailey, the troop commander said, "Let's go back and check again." Around 8:15, I got the initial report, possible jackpot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, we got him!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within 24 hours of having the critical piece of information, giving away his location, they went there, surrounded the area, discovered him hiding in a hole in the ground that was what was described as an essentially a small man-made hole, about six feet by eight feet in size, hiding there. When troops discovered him in that location, he came out, he was disoriented.
MAJ. BRYAN REED, U.S. ARMY MAJOR: He said, "I'm Saddam Hussein. I am the president of Iraq, and I want to negotiate." And then the response from a U.S. soldier was, "President Bush sends his regards."
HICKEY: We found Saddam in the town of Ad-Dawr about nine kilometers southeast of his hometown. But it just seemed to make sense to me, he's going to trust his own people. He's going to trust his own blood. That's how that Ba'athist regime really worked, or in at least Saddam's inner circle.
GRECO: He was a small village boy that went back to his hometown in his last days, and that's where he decided to hide out. It was not too far from where he was born and grew up. He went home to feel safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you disappointed that you didn't get to be involved in the capture of Saddam Hussein?
MADDOX: I get that question more than any question in the world. I don't care. I don't need to see him. He's not a relic. It wasn't my job to see him.