In March 2003, U.S. coalition forces invaded Iraq on the allegations that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction and developed ties to al-Qaida. The Iraqi president was deposed and his Ba’ath party disbanded, and in December 2003, Hussein was captured and interrogated. John Nixon, author of the new book, “Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein” (Blue Rider Press, 2016), acted as both the lead interrogator of Hussein and a briefer to President George W. Bush and his top administration officials. Drawing from insights gained during his interrogation of Hussein, Nixon believes Hussein was willing to negotiate with the United States on its security concerns, and that Iraq would look different today had he remained in power.
Nearly 15 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a battle wages between the Islamic State and Iraqi forces, and questions remain about both the past U.S. invasion and what current U.S. policy in Iraq should be.
On March 22, the Brookings Intelligence Project hosted former CIA analyst Nixon to outline his findings from his interrogation of Hussein, and what lessons he believes can be learned. Brookings Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. Following their remarks, Riedel and Nixon took questions from the audience.