Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein

Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein

by John Nixon


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Debriefing the President presents an astounding, candid portrait of one of our era’s most notorious strongmen. John Nixon, the first man to conduct a prolonged interrogation of Hussein after his capture, offers expert insight into the history and mind of America’s most enigmatic enemy. 

In December 2003, after one of the largest, most aggressive manhunts in history, US military forces captured Iraqi president Saddam Hussein near his hometown of Tikrit. Beset by body-double rumors and false alarms during a nine-month search, the Bush administration needed positive identification of the prisoner before it could make the announcement that would rocket around the world.

At the time, John Nixon was a senior CIA leadership analyst who had spent years studying the Iraqi dictator. Called upon to make the official ID, Nixon looked for telltale scars and tribal tattoos and asked Hussein a list of questions only he could answer. The man was indeed Saddam Hussein, but as Nixon learned in the ensuing weeks, both he and America had greatly misunderstood just who Saddam Hussein really was.

After years of parsing Hussein’s leadership from afar, Nixon faithfully recounts his debriefing sessions and subsequently strips away the mythology surrounding an equally brutal and complex man. His account is not an apology, but a sobering examination of how preconceived ideas led Washington policymakers—and the Bush White House—astray. Unflinching and unprecedented, Debriefing the President exposes a fundamental misreading of one of the modern world’s most central figures and presents a new narrative that boldly counters the received account.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399575815
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/27/2016
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

John Nixon was a senior leadership analyst with the CIA from 1998 to 2011. He did several tours in Iraq and was recognized by a number of federal agencies for his contribution to the war effort. During his time with the CIA, Nixon regularly wrote for, and briefed, the most senior levels of the US government.  He also taught leadership analysis to the new generation of analysts coming into the CIA at the Sherman Kent School, the Agency’s in-house analytic training center. Since leaving the Agency in 2011, Nixon has worked as an international risk consultant in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  He lives in Alexandria, Virginia. This is his first book.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Unfinished Business 1

1 "Holy Shit, It's Saddam!" 11

2 "Dare To Be Right" 29

3 Destination Baghdad 43

4 Winging It 63

5 Getting Under Saddam's Fingernails 77

6 The Persian Menace 91

7 Turbans In Politics 107

8 Death to Shiites and Zionists 125

9 Saddam Blows his Top 145

10 Deep Dive In The Oval Office 159

11 Crosswise with the President 173

12 In The Shadow Of His Father 187

13 The First Draft Of History 201

14 Leaving With Regrets 217

Epilogue: A Hanging in the Middle of the Night 231

Acknowledgments 235

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