Tapes Reveal a Merciless, Fearful Saddam Hussein

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saddam Hussein speaks in court. (Chris Hondros/Getty)

It is the Iraqi version of Richard Nixon's Oval Office tapes — hours of audio files recorded inside the office of Saddam Hussein during his tenure as Iraqi President in the 1980s. Almost five years after Hussein's execution, much of the collection has still never been made public. But 20 new recordings, transcripts, and high-level documents were released on Tuesday in connection with a conference on the Iran-Iraq War in Washington.

The new materials present a portrait of a merciless leader whose fear of his enemies was greater than his understanding of them. Hussein displays a shaky knowledge of weapons and strategy — and a tendency to make epic miscalculations. Michael Gordon, military correspondent for The New York Times, explains what these files reveal about Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

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