Transcript: Saddam Interview, Part 3

Debate Proposed With Bush

Read Part III of the Saddam Hussein - Dan Rather interview.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: (UNINTEL) because those who are being destroyed are saying that God is our-- Allah is our God, and that we believe in that. And that we must defend ourselves, and defend our right to dignity, and to live in peace and to live in dignity and freedom. What did Iraq threaten the United States with? Iraq has not committed any aggressive against the United States. Nor, nobody in Iraq. Neither an official nor anybody in Iraq says that the United States is our enemy. Or that-- we-- we-- we must fight the United States.
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Or the American people are our enemy. Is it acceptable, that anybody--
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Is it acceptable that anybody with power should go and destroy others? Or anybody who is being pushed or urged by big companies or multinational companies, should go to dominate others and destroy them? Mr. Rather, you are a man of (UNINTEL).
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: You know that battle is not over until-- and only when the guns are stopped - When the national will of the people completely succumbs to all that the aggressor wants to see done. Air supremacy and missile supremacy is not enough. But in the final analy-- analysis, the guns will continue to tell the tale of a courageous people, defending with its own fighters, its own (UNINTEL).
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: And in fact, a tale about the--
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: The – the - not because the people of Iraq want to - fight the - the United States. But this is a decision made by the people-- of Iraq. That they will maintain their role as people who believe in their role. And they will commit themselves, continue committing themselves to this role, and-- the role that makes them respect themselves as much as they respect others, and respect the world.

So, let us try. For all the people. And pray to Allah, to give people the faith. That will spare them committing harm against others. That will spare them--
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: - to be practiced against them.

Rather: Mr. President, Vice President Cheney, Vice President Richard Cheney of the United States says that if and when an American-led Army comes into Iraq, it will be greeted with music. It will be treated as a Army of liberation. If Americans are not to believe that, why should they not believe that?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: If the Iraqi Army were to go to cross the Atlantic, and (UNINTEL) the United States-- would (UNINTEL) receive them -
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: There and any other (UNINTEL).
(SKIP IN TAPE)

Rather: Vice President Richard Cheney of the United States says that if and when an American-led army comes into Iraq, it will be greeted with music. It will be treated as a Army of liberation. If Americans are not to believe that, why should they not believe that?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: If the Iraqi Army were to go to cross the Atlantic and occupy the United States-- would (UNINTEL) receive--
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: There, and any other (UNINTEL).
(GLITCHES, SKIPS IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: The Iraqi Army were to go to cross the Atlantic, and occupy the United States, would (UNINTEL) receive them - there, and any other (UNINTEL).

Translator For Saddam Hussein: I - I believe it is not - acceptable, from any official, or-- politician, to say such a thing. Because when he says it, morally speaking, he is in fact, (GLITCH).
(GLITCHES, SKIPS IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: I - I believe it is not-- acceptable for any official or-- politician, to say such a thing. Because when he says it, morally speaking, he is in fact telling his own people that they should be prepared one-- when it comes. To greet-- occupying armies with music. If it so happens, (UNINTEL).
(GLITCHES, SKIPS IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: I - I believe it is not - acceptable, from any official or - politician, to say such a thing. Because when he says it, morally speaking, he is in fact telling his own people that they should be prepared one-- when it comes, to greet-- occupying armies with music. If it so happens.
(GLITCHES, SKIPS IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: - his own people that they should be prepared, one-- when it comes, to greet-- occupying armies with music, if it so happens (UNINTEL). That's why I believe a-- absolutely, that there's no-- Iraqi whatsoever, who will-- welcome any American, if that American individual is here in the-- in this capacity, as an occupation force. Or as an occupier.

But all Iraqis will, as they do, welcome all Americans. That is why now you are here, you see that you're being welcomed. Even though you come from a company that is threatening to attack Iraq. Haven't you seen the welcome, the kind of welcome with which you've b-- you've been received? Even though people know that you are--

Male Voice: By officials and (UNINTEL).

Translator For Saddam Hussein: By officials and the ordinary citizens. You can roam about in the town. But if an American soldier is here, trying to roam around and-- walk about as an occupier, he will not be-- he will not be received in-- in this way. He will not be able to do that, in fact.

So, as long as you're not a soldier, an occupying force, you are a guest. And a guest is always treated with the respect and (UNINTEL).

(SKIP IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Long answer, (UNINTEL). But-- and-- (OVERTALK) Any American, or the-- any other person-- any other. If they want to know the real position of the Iraqi people, the reality about the Iraqi position, they must ask themselves these questions. In --

Male Voice: Five questions.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: In , the Iraqi people elected Saddam Hussein for the position of President of Iraq. And in -- and-- , they re-elected him to the same position. And the percentage of the voting in both elections were respectively, -point--

Male Voice: Six.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: - something.

Male Voice: Six.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Point-six percent. And percent, in both-- in those two elections.

Rather: percent?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: percent. Now, this percentage, I know, may sound very strange to you. May sound strange to you, because you're not used to that. And I can understand that you may find that percentage-- strange.

But even if you take out whatever portion you want to take out of that, then the ratio would remain a high percentage in favor of electing-- re-electing-- President Saddam Hussein to (UNINTEL).

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Of course, in the West, observers will--

Translator For Saddam Hussein: No - no suspicion. No suspect comment w-- was made about the validity of the voting. And - Because journalists were invited from all over the world, to go around the polling stations. They actually stood near the polling boxes, and they looked at the papers. They saw people actually doing it, and saying "Yes," and not saying any other thing.
(OVERTALK)

Male Voice: That was - was (UNINTEL) the last-- elections. (UNINTEL)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: And of course-- that-- those elections were done, in the Gulf War, and the embargo. And the - the blockade. Now, what does that mean? It means that the Iraqis have decided to take a-- a national, a patriotic stand. Under the circumstance of war, and circumstance of the blockade. In order to say to the foreign powers that are threatening Iraq, "It is we, the people of Iraq, who decide our way, and who decide our faith and our will, not you, telling us what to do."

But – and - let me say that if this election was taken place not under the circumstances or condition of war, or-- the blockade, or the-- the embargo, maybe the percentage will not be the same. But this tells you something about the behavior of the Iraqi people. So, if you want to know how the Iraqi people will behave, or usually behave, you need to look at the elections, and how they behaved during those elections, and how they decided something.

Male Voice: When - when they are attacked by a foreigner, who wants to deprive them of their honor, sovereignty, and (UNINTEL).

Rather: I understand. Mr. President, if it's necessary for you to forgive me, I hope that you'll forgive me. But I have a couple of - sort of clean-up questions that I'm not clear about. Number one. Will the new proposed United Nations resolution, the one that's just out this week - will this make any difference at all in your position?

The basic-- the basic position, there is no change. We - will continue committing ourselves to the resolutions of the Secur-- And the inspectors came, and they have seen for ourselves that what we have said before has - That they have-- that what we've said is true. We have not pr-- pursued any weapons of mass destruction.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: And have come.. So, what do they want to issue new resolutions about now?

Rather: So basically, no change in your position.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: We've (UNINTEL) in our position as yet. We do not compromise our independence. Or our dignity and our freedom. And at the same time, we will continue to commit ourselves to what has been decided by the Security Council. If new resolutions that are adopted by the Security Council which may infringe upon our dignity, our freedom - Then the position towards such a resolution will be the same, in-- in line with our previous positions.

Rather: And-- and I wanted to ask again, so I'm perfectly clear-- you do not intend to destroy your Al Samoud missiles. The missiles--

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Al Samoud.

Rather: Yeah. Al Samoud missiles. You do not intend to destroy those.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: The-- the missiles you mean, which are within the range of the UN--
(SKIP IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: - 50 kilometers. You mean, those missiles?

Rather: I mean, the missiles that Hans Blix says that he wants a commitment from you that they will be destroyed.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: No violation has been made by Iraq to anything decided by the United Nations. If - what is meant here is to review or, the resolutions of the Security Council, the resolutions that stipulate that Iraq is allowed to produce missiles with a range of kilometers-- if the intention is to rewrite those resolutions, then we will be entering a new framework. A framework in which the United States will be made to forsake its own position.
(OVERTALK)

And (UNINTEL) its own resolutions, and take a new road towards harming Iraq. And-- for-- intending to violate the-- (UNINTEL) position, violate the sovereignty of Iraq.

Male Voice: And (UNINTEL)-- and violating the-- the very-- same resolutions of-- adopted by the Security Council.
(OVERTALK)

Rather: Mr. President, I know you've been very patient with your time. Let me go through a short list of additional things. If-- if there is an invasion, will you set fire to the oil fields? Will you blow the damns? Or your reservoirs of water, to resist the invasion?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: We have answered - We have answered the hypotheses. I've answered the hypothesis. But to indulge in the details-- Iraq does not burn its wealth. Its (UNINTEL).
(OVERTALK)

And-- it does not destroy its-- dams. We hope that, however, that this question is not meant-- as an insinuation, so that the Iraqi dams and the Iraqi oil wells will be destroyed by those who will invade Iraq, in their possible invasion of the country.

Iraq does not destroy its dams or its oil. Iraq protects, defends, maintains those resources, in order to improve life. And in order to (UNINTEL).

And during the war with Iran - Iran used water to fight us. And did not destroy - the dams. We used water, and we didn't - did not destroy the dams.

Rather: Mr. President, I hope you will take this question in the spirit in which it's asked. First of all, I regret that I do not speak Arabic. Do you speak any-- any English at all?
(OVERTALK)

Rather: That's (UNINTEL) This American Life story.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: I am sorry, because I… Yes. But, I do not speak English - fluently. But I can understand, to-- by a certain degree. The English when spoken.

Rather: Well, would you speak some English for me? Anything you choose?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: My language is Arabic.

Rather: I understand. Mr. President, again, you've been patient with your time. What is the most important thing you want the p - American people to understand? What's the most important thing you want the American people to understand, at this important juncture of history?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: First… Convey to them that the people of Iraq is not an enemy of the American people. It is only-- people of Iraq are only opposed to the policy of the United States government, administration, against the people of the world, including the people of Iraq. Iraq hopes and looks forward to living in peace, and in fact, hopes and prays for all others, all peoples of the world, including people of the United States, to live in peace and to live in respect. And-- respect amongst all people.
(OVERTALK)

Male Voice: (UNINTEL) respect the will of others.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: If-- the American people-- would like to know the facts for what they are, or as they are, through a direct dialogue, then I am ready to conduct a direct dialogue with the President of the United States, President Bush, on television. I will say whatever I have to say-- about American policy. He will have-- the opportunity to say whatever he has to say about policy of Iraq. And this will be in front of all people, and-- on television, in a direct—uncensored – hon - honest manner. In front of, as I said, everyone.

And then they will see what the facts are, and where falsehoods are. And I would not object to see this dialogue conducted on-- by-- by Mr. (UNINTEL).

Rather: Are you speaking about a debate?

Rather: This - this is new. You-- you are suggesting, you are saying, that you are willing, you are suggesting, you're urging a debate with President Bush? On television?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Yes. That's my proposal.

Rather: Well, that's an interesting (UNINTEL).

Translator For Saddam Hussein: The American people, as we see on films - are great. On films, we see that the Americans, when they are challenged for a duel, they will not-- decline the - the offer. As the Arabs would - would (UNINTEL). We are not asking for a duel. But… We are proposing that we should (UNINTEL) support the Americans, and - We are asking for a – a – a - an opportunity to be seen by the Americans, the Iraqis, and all of the people in the world in a debate that is shown on television, between myself and Mr. Bush, directly, to be watched by…

Translator For Saddam Hussein: This will be - This will be an opportunity for him, if he is committed to-- to war, and if he has decided to-- commit to wage war, this will be an opportunity for him, if he's convinced-- to-- to convince the world. If he's convinced in his own position, this will be an opportunity for him to convince the world that he is right in taking such a dec-- (GLITCH). It could also be an opportunity for us - To - tell the world our own side of the story. And why we want to live in peace, and in security.

I believe that it is the right of the American people, the Iraqi people, and the world, of honor. Which makes it incumbent-- incumbent upon us to say what we have (UNINTEL), so that-- they-- they will be clear about-- our position.

Don't you call for the truth to be released in the United States? This is how we hear. This is… And what we read, from-This is what we read and hear about the American philosophers, and (UNINTEL)--
(OVERTALK)

In their books, and even in their movies…. So, why should we hide from the people? So, why should we discredit ourselves? Why should not we-- why shouldn't we disclose ourselves to the people? We as President - President of the United States, and President of Iraq, in front of our people.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: (UNINTEL) invite… Then we will either go (UNINTEL) to peace, to choose the path of peace, which is what we look for, and hope-- Then we will spare both our people the harm and the loss. Or otherwise, the-- whoever wants to decide anything other than peace, then he will have to convince his own people, with whatever-- avenues--

Translator For Saddam Hussein: This is the-- the gist of my proposal, my idea.

Rather: This is not a joke.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: No, this is something proposed in earnest. This is proposed out of my respect for the public opinion of the United States. And it is out of my respect to the people of the United States. And to the people of Iraq. And in-- out of my respect to mankind in general. Humanity at large. I call for this, because war itself is not a joke. Whoever chooses war as the first choice in his life, then he is not a normal person. I think the - the debates would be an opportunity for us to insure peace and safety. Then, why don't we--
(OVERTALK)

Why don't we - Why don't we choose to talk, in which we will be respecting our people, as two-- as the two highest authorities in our countries. The two needed to take the decisions, on the basis of their own-- you know, decision-making apparatus.

Here in Iraq, we have our own apparatus, for reaching those decisions. And we know that in the United States, you have your own system. But we, as the leaders of the two countries, why don't we use this opportunity in a debate, so that-- we can show our respect to both our peoples, and to humanity. And then each of us can take the decision that h-- h-- he or - decides to take, according to what goes on.

Rather: Mr. President, where would this debate take place, that you imagine-- what would be the venue?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: It will be in a place, as President of the United States, and Saddam Hussein will be in a place as President of Iraq. And then the debate can be conducted through satellite.

Rather: Oh. So, a satellite television debate. Live.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: And if Mr. Bush has another proposal, a counterproposal with the same basic idea then we're prepared to listen to such a proposal.

Rather: Would you be prepared to come to the United Nations for this debate?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: The basic thing is that as far as debate to be heard in the natural, normal-- in a (UNINTEL) accurate manner. In the United Nations, voices are not heard. Not always. And I do not mean that I go and I make a speech at the United Nations and then that Bush will make his speech at the United Nations. That is not what I mean. What I mean is that we sit-- as we are sitting, you and I, now as-- Here is-- I will address questions to him and he will address questions to me. The position of Iraq and he will - the position of the United States.

He will explain why – 'I will (UNINTEL) go to war.' I will explain why we are insistent on peace and we want to maintain peace. And we maintain our (UNINTEL).
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Those people in the United States also - and other people will (UNINTEL).
Without make-up. Without - Without editing. Without – Without - Without prepared speeches which-- which (UNINTEL) do not listen to. The people like listening to live debates. Live debates between--
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: I believe people listen to psychological (UNINTEL) about people in the United States (UNINTEL). That they like to see live debate amongst people with - proof and counterproof.

Rather: Well, this surprises me. I want to make sure I understand.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: That this debate should be-- shown--

Rather: A live international debate via satellite--

Translator For Saddam Hussein: That's it. A live, direct debate through satellite.

Rather: How did this-- who-- who would moderate this debate?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Any (UNINTEL) that you can moderate.

Rather: With respect, Mr. President, I have (UNINTEL) other problems. I've got enough problems already. But I--

Translator For Saddam Hussein: That's another (UNINTEL PHRASE)…. But--
(OVERTALK)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: - the responsibility of - The responsibility of displaying the truth as-- as an outstanding man of the media-- to carry out this responsibility is something that is on-- of course you will do that while maintain - when you can play the truth he'll be sparing people many-- a lot of harm.

Rather: Well-- first of all, I want to be serious that I-- I appreciate-- your confidence - Mr. President. I'm pausing because I'm tempted to ask a favor of the president. (Editor's note: Rather is referring to Saddam Hussein) He has surprised me. I wonder for my good health if he could denounce me? (LAUGHTER)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Denounce you?

Rather: Yes.

(OFF-MIKE CONVERSATION)

Rather: (LAUGHTER) Well, I - I think this is -

Translator For Saddam Hussein: I met you in 1990. And I'm meeting you now. We have not met-- We are not partners in any enterprise or any - not competing with any people for any other - So this is the basics of--

Rather: I understand. (UNINTEL) I appreciate your remembering that we met in 1990. And I interviewed you in this great building. Given the sober moment and the danger at hand, what are the chances this is the last time you and I will see each other?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: You want me to say what I truly believe as it is?

Rather: Yes.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Basics-- basis is that (UNINTEL PHRASE) decides the destiny of man. But—and - God almighty says also that it is incumbent upon man to do what should be done on the ground. Then it is there that I can see-- it is now that I can see that (UNINTEL) we have other meetings. No matter what happens. And I hope that Iraq and the United States, the people of Iraq and the United States will live in security and in peace. And in mutual interests, national interests without harm caused by any side to (UNINTEL).

Rather: Mr. President, you say that knowing that (UNINTEL) on your brother is a tremendous armada ready to deliver destruction and awe.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Yes, I understand and I hear and I see. (UNINTEL) find out will be decided - God almighty--Through the Iraqi people here in Iraq and in Baghdad. I do not-- I'm not (UNINTEL) to the destiny of the Americans - in the United States. I'm just talking about the destiny of the Iraqi - And the fate of any aggression committed against the Iraqis while they are in their country.

Rather: I have one last question, Mr. President. Not so long ago, you were clearly hailed by Arabs from Palestinians to Jordanians throughout the Arab world as the great Arab Avenger. Are you still relevant on the Arab street? Or has Osama bin Laden made you what other Arabs irrelevant? If you can understand the question. Thank you.

Translator For Saddam Hussein: This is not our objective. This is not what we seek. It's-- the question is not a personal-- question. What we seek is the gratification of Allah, God almighty. And the satisfaction within our conscience and also the satisfaction of our people and of our-- of our nation. When we-- present ourselves as-- to our people, we seek the satisfaction of humanity at large also.

And - and we hope that humanity will understand our principles as they are. But-- and not as they are falsified or misrepresented by others. This is the basis of-- (BREAK IN SOUND) And we hope that humanity will understand our principles as they are. But-- and not as they are falsified or misrepresented by others. This is the basis of our endeavor. We seek the satisfaction of our people, people of our nation--

(BREAK IN SOUND) This is not our objective. This is not what we seek. It's-- the question is not a personal-- question. What we seek is the gratification of Allah, God almighty. And the satisfaction within our conscience and also the satisfaction of our people and of our-- of our nation. When we-- present ourselves to our people, we seek the satisfaction of humanity at large also.

And-- and we hope that humanity will understand our principles as they are. But - and not as they are falsified or misrepresented by others. This is the basis of our endeavor. We seek the satisfaction of our people, people of our nation and - (BREAK IN SOUND) And not as they are falsified or misrepresented by others. This is the basis of our endeavor. We seek the satisfaction of our people. People of our nation-- (BREAK IN SOUND) Or speak of heroes here and there. The basic thing (UNINTEL) is for something to be said that—(BREAK IN SOUND) person has been - honest and true to his nation. And that is a (UNINTEL) forever. (BREAK IN SOUND) heroes or speak of heroes here and there. The basic thing, maybe, is for something - (BREAK IN SOUND) nation. And that is a right for every citizen in any nation. To seek to be described as a true citizen of the nation.

Rather: (UNINTEL PHRASE) not agree that Osama bin Laden is now-- (BREAK IN SOUND)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: to seek to be described as a true citizen of the nation.

Rather: He does or does not agree that Osama bin Laden is now - the champion of the Arab streets?
(BREAK IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: --or speak of heroes here or there. The basic thing, maybe, is for-- something to be said that this person-- (BREAK IN SOUND) honest and true-- (BREAK IN SOUND) and that is a right for every citizen in any nation. To seek--
(BREAK IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: --as a true citizen of the nation.

Rather: So he does or does not agree that - (BREAK IN SOUND) is now--
(BREAK IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: - as a true citizen of the nation.

Rather: So he does or does not agree that Osama bin Laden is now-- the champion of the Arab streets?
(BREAK IN TAPE)

Translator For Saddam Hussein: - humanity will understand our principles as they are. But-- and not as they are falsified or misrepresented by others. This is the basis of our endeavor. We seek the satisfaction of our people, people of our nation. And we do not talk-- we-- we seek-- we do not seek personal satisfaction that we are heroes or speak of heroes here and there.

The basic thing, maybe, is for - something to be said that this person has been honest and true to his nation. And that is a right for every citizen in any nation. To seek to be described as a true citizen of the nation.

Rather: So he does or does not agree that Osama bin Laden is now-- the champion of the Arab streets?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: How do you see yourself? I am pleased when I see that according to the principles in which we believe that-- in the sense that one is true--

Translator For Saddam Hussein: I believe - I believe you are teaching (UNINTEL) truth and not trying to - indulge any sensation… detract someone as-- detract the speaker from-- into saying that he doesn't want to say. I do not believe that this is what you see.

Rather: This is not true?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: Yes.

Rather: Is-- did the answer finish?

Translator For Saddam Hussein: No, it's not. (OFF-MIKE CONVERSATION) So – the - we are - pleased to see people true to these principles of - of the nation. In the same way as you would be happy to see people true to your principles emerging in the United States. As the heroes, the champions of peace - there and they become more and the champions of freedom are there and become more. And the champions of production and improvement and (UNINTEL) become more.

We're all pleased for it. And the basic objective is to remove injustice from-- imposed on our nation. See how the Palestinians are being treated. See how they're being killed. See how their houses are destroyed. See how their property is being destroyed without anybody trying to do anything to redress justice and to-- to save them from what they're-- suffering. If you, in the United States, see Osama bin Laden as a champion then we are not jealous of him. If our nation sees him as a champion, we are not jealous of him.

As you proposed in your question maybe. Jealousy is not a trait of man. Jealousy is a trait maybe of women but that is another - in that - in that very special-- trait. It's a very special trait. Men do not have jealousy especially if this competition is competition there in the interests of the nation and the-- and (UNINTEL PHRASE).

Rather: Mr. President, you've been so patient with your time. I appreciate you (UNINTEL). And I'm gonna--

Translator For Saddam Hussein: I'm happy. And I hope to see you in the future. I hope--

Rather: I would like very much to see you in the future, Mr. President.

Transcript, Part II
Transcript, Part I

  • David Kohn

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