That is what writer David Rose learned after interviewing two defectors from the family's inner circle for "Vanity Fair" magazine.
"These two defectors came to my attention through the Iraqi National Congress, the main opposition group," said Rose on The Early Show. The two had been very close for many years to Saddam's sons Uday, who turns 39 in June, and Qusay, 37 in May.
The defectors, Rose said, "had witnessed scenes of really great horror along the way, while themselves having benefited from that proximity to Uday and Qusay, getting quite rich."
His friends told Rose that Uday has a personal penchant for torture. "I think one of the most horrifying things about this is, he doesn't do this to his enemies. It's what he does to his friends when they commit some minor transgression, when they say something out of turn. And sometimes he even does it to his girlfriends," Rose said. Uday also is known for his attraction to very young girls.
Rose said he hopes his article provides an inside view of Saddam Hussein's sons and of life under his regime.
"I think what emerges is that this isn't a regime based on ideology, like Nazism or communism," he said. "It's a kind of psychotic gangsterism with Saddam at the head, but the two sons just able to do really whatever they please with immense power at their disposal and the means of inflicting quite horrific suffering on those in their immediate circle and on the Iraqi people beyond."
Uday and Qusay both played major parts in the suppression of the uprising that followed the first Gulf War, Rose said.
"One of the defectors was personally present when Qusay was interrogating prisoners--men women and children--stripped naked in warehouses near Baghdad, people from the Shia districts of Baghdad," Rose said. "And if they didn't give satisfactory answers he was personally shooting them or having them shot. The defector describes how the floor was just awash with blood."
Qusay is known as the strategist and organizer, the enforcer who kills. He is head of military intelligence and all of Iraq's competing secret police forces, security and intelligence organizations. Qusay is pegged to take over his father's regime, to the dismay of his older brother.
Uday is said to be the unstable, capricious, megalomaniac, a sadist who whimsically kills people.
The family is not without its internal squabbles. In 1988, Rose says, Uday killed "one of his father's closest associates, a bodyguard and pinch, frankly, at a party. And Saddam was absolutely furious. So he actually jailed his own son for about three months. And Uday himself was tortured in prison on his father's instructions."
Afterwards, Rose said, Uday "was brought back into the bosom of Saddam's family and given back all his old posts and privileges as if nothing had happened."