05/21/07 - saddam

In today's excerpt - the ruthlessness of dictators:

"According to [Saudi Prince] Bandar, Saddam required his bodyguards to do two things to prove themselves: kill somebody from within their own tribe, and kill somebody from another tribe. So there would be a double vendetta.

"Bandar explained: 'This is smart evil because if you take evil out of it, it makes sense. If I want to trust you with my life, I want to make sure nowhere else you are safe except with me.'

"At another time, Saddam pointed to the people around him—high and low—and told [Saudi King] Fahd, 'They are the most loyal to me.'

"It is nice to be surrounded by the most loyal people,' Fahd replied.

"'Oh, no, no, I didn't say that, Your Majesty,' Saddam corrected. 'I told you they are very loyal to me because every one of them, his hand is bloody. Every one of them knows that, when I die, you will never find a piece this big from my body.' Saddam indicated the smallest piece of flesh between his fingers. 'I'll be cut to pieces, and if that happens to me, they're all finished.'

"From his personal meetings with the Iraq dictator, Bandar said, 'The most amazing thing about Saddam is how confident he looks, how relaxed he looks, and how charming he is—and how deadly. And each of these attributes are clear at the same time.'

"Saddam could make his most senior generals shake, Bandar said. Once, while Bandar met with Saddam in the 1980s while trying to broker an end to the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam told him, 'Bandar, all those people are loyal to me. I know a man by looking into his eyes. I can tell you if he's loyal or not. And if he starts blinking, I know he is a traitor and then I exterminate him.' ...

" 'You are a man with presence,' Bandar told the Iraqi dictator. 'I would not be surprised that some poor young officer or minister might panic, which is natural. Are you going to tell me you are going to kill somebody because he panicked, only because he is in awe of you?'

" 'Ha ha ha ha HA!' Saddam replied, with the most deadly laugh. He then tapped Bandar on the shoulder. 'I'd rather kill somebody, not sure if he is a traitor, than let one traitor get by.' "

[Suggested by a delanceyplace reader.]


Bob Woodward


State of Denial: Bush at War Part 3


Simon & Schuster


Copyright 2006 by Bob Woodward


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