December 14, 2003 | Broadcast

CNN Live Event/Special

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it is no accident. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been there at that meeting, by the way, between whatever the future of Iraq is and whatever the past has been. It’s no accident that the pictures you’re seeing are the pictures you’re seeing. That you have this very undignified Saddam Hussein. And while we wait for the DNA testing, it’s hard to imagine the American government would carry this moment out the way it has unless it was 100 percent sure that the guy they have is Saddam Hussein.

In any case, how these pictures are being seen here in the states, in Iraq, across the Arab world, across Europe, must be — well, it will be just a remarkable part of the story today.

James Woolsey is with us, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

It’s good to see you on a day of historic importance. How do you think this will play across the Arab world? Will the Americans be celebrated for their accomplishment, or will we hear about the treatment of Saddam?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: I think we’ll be respected. It’s really quite fitting at the end of this incredible year, 2003, that Saddam is captured by American soldiers hiding in a hole, together with other rats. And I think we ought to play it that way.

Humiliation, not physical abuse or anything like that, but letting it be known that this was the way he was caught, humbled, not only captured, is I think an important part of all of this. And it will have an effect, also, on the Tikritis, other Tikritis and Ba’athist resistance.

There could still or will still be some attacks. There was a bloody one today, killing 20, as your report said, 20 police. But this is, if not the beginning of the end, this is at least the end of the beginning of getting rid of the Baathist resistance.

BROWN: Their motivation really hasn’t changed very much from yesterday to today. A lot of reporting over weeks and months. Nobody was really pining much for Saddam Hussein. Nobody really much demanding that Saddam Hussein come back. So their concern has always been what piece of the pie did they get when the pie is baked again, and that hasn’t changed.

WOOLSEY: That’s right. But the only way the Baathists and some — many of the Tikritis get a piece of the pie is if they drive us out and can impose some kind of a reign of terror again. The ones that had prominent positions, the ones that are doing this are not going to be anything in a new Iraq. They’ll be lucky if they’re not prosecuted, and they will be prosecuted if they did anything terrible.

So I think that it is important for the sheiks, especially, the tribal leaders in the Sunni heartland, to realize that the Sunnis, as a whole, have a place, an important place in the new Iraq. And they’ll be treated well and treated fairly. But not the remnants of the Baathists, and particularly the Tikritis who were very close to Saddam.

BROWN: Over in your old office, how do you think this news got there? Who took the call? Give me some sense of what it must have been like over in Langley when this news came.

WOOLSEY: I image what happened was, as soon as they got him, the military commanders called the CIA station chief, or whoever is the head of their operations there in Iraq. And he woke George Tenet up or called him immediately as soon as he could. I bet it was — it would have been great to get that phone call.

BROWN: It would have been nice to get it. It wouldn’t have been bad to place it.


BROWN: I mean, how would you like to be the one on the other end of the line that gets to say, “Boss, we got him,” which is pretty much what Paul Bremer said when he addressed the Iraqis, the Americans, and the world about 7:30 Eastern Time, “We got him.” And the room included — Iraqi reporters broke out in applause.

Do you think that in the short term, Mr. Woolsey, that there will be an attempt to retaliate against the American side, the coalition?

WOOLSEY: Oh, sure. The remnants of the Baathists, Tikritis — and I think augmented by al Qaeda and perhaps some Iranian-backed terrorists who are helping them and working with them, they’ll do their best to have some kind of really painful last gasp here. And there will be still some bad days and weeks ahead, I’m afraid. But there were two wonderful comments in the press coverage you had just a few minutes ago of that governing council meeting.

One was that there some confusion about who was going to be asking a question, and one member of the governing council said let him speak. It’s a free country. That’s a great line.

And also, someone else was talking about Saddam’s trial, and they described essentially that he’d been read his Miranda rights and he’ll get counsel if he can’t afford counsel for himself. Those are wonderful little vignettes of this remarkable day.

BROWN: The Iraqi version of Miranda reading. Thank you. Jim Woolsey in Washington, the former CIA director. His thoughts this morning.