December 17, 2003 | Broadcast



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bin Laden is on the run. I mean, he’s — as I like to say, certainly not leading any parades these days. And, you know, he is probably in a hole somewhere hiding from justice. We’ll get him.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Dead or alive?

BUSH: Dead or alive.


BARNICLE: James Woolsey was director of Central Intelligence under President Clinton and vice president of the consulting firm Booz, Allen, Hamilton.

Director Woolsey, before we get to Osama bin Laden, let me ask you a bit about Saddam Hussein. Apparently he has been handed over to the Central Intelligence Agency for interrogation.

How does that work? Former director of the CIA, how does that work? What will they do to him?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I don’t know that there’s going to be a strong possibility of getting a lot out of this guy. They’ll ask him questions in a straightforward way, and the mind games that are usually played in circumstances like this, pretending that somebody has betrayed him or pretending that he’s in a different country as they did with one — successfully with one al Qaeda suspect. Tricked him into thinking he was in Saudi Arabia, and he started naming Saudi princes he was working with.

That sort of thing is pretty unlikely with Saddam.

I think we’ve gotten a lot of good material from this notebook that he had with him where he listed his contacts. That’s wonderful. But I don’t — I’d be a little surprise if we got much out of him by interrogation.


WOOLSEY: Well, look, in some number of months, spring or summer, presumably he is going to be tried. I would hope by an Iraqi tribunal.

And he’s not likely to think that he’s going to get any kind of plea bargain. You know, any kind of special consideration to just spend his life in prison or something. He’s likely to expect to be executed.

And I think probably he’ll try to go out looking defiant. This guy is a killer, and he’s not a fighter. He showed that by hunkering in that hole and not fighting when he was taken and so forth, but he’ll want to look defiant to the world. So he’ll try to strike a defiant stance, but I don’t think it’s going to do him any good.

BARNICLE: What is your sense of his relationship with and knowledge of Osama bin Laden?

WOOLSEY: I think it’s pretty likely that over the last 10 years or so there have been substantial contacts between al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence, particularly.

George Tenet said that a year and a couple months ago when he wrote to the Congress and said that there had been training by Iraqi intelligence of al Qaeda in poisons, gases, and conventional explosives. So the people who say there are no contacts are just wrong. And they’re amply chronicled in a piece in the “Weekly Standard” a two or three weeks ago, based on a Defense Department memorandum.

Now, that may not mean operational cooperation on individual operations, and if may not have meant that the Iraqis controlled al Qaeda in any sense. They’re sort of like two Mafia families. They hate each other. They kill each other from time to time, insult each other, but perfectly capable of figuring that the enemy of my enemy is my temporary friend.

BARNICLE: And what do you figure is the — I don’t know, the degree of difficulty involved in capturing Osama bin Laden? Why has there been such difficulty?

WOOLSEY: Well, we don’t have a very good idea where he is, I don’t think. He may be on the Afghan-Pakistani border, and those tribes and clans are very hostile to outsiders and very supportive of him.

Conceivably he’s on the Yemeni-Saudi border, and, again, down there where his father is from, those clans and families are very tight-lipped and likely to protect him.

I’m increasingly thinking and hearing that, though, he may be in Iran. Again, the mullahs who run Iran are Shiites and Islamists. That is, totalitarians essentially, and he’s a Sunni, and people — some people think that they will never work together. But I think, again, it’s a situation of the enemy of my enemy being my temporary friend.

And there’s the Iranian mullahs badly want us to fail in both Afghanistan and Iraq. One way to do that is to work with people like Hekmater (ph) up in Afghanistan, who’s close to Osama bin Laden and to try to keep Afghanistan in turmoil, and also to try to keep the same thing going in Iraq.

So I don’t know, you know, that Damon Runyon figure Harry the Horse said nothing that depends on humans is worth odds of more than 8-5. So I’d only give it 8-5, but I think there’s a chance he’s in Iran.

BARNICLE: James Woolsey, thanks very much.