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Psychology of Saddam

From Brian Todd

Saddam Hussein in a combative moment in court Thursday.
Saddam Hussein

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Reporters described him as nervous at first, taking a while to hit his stride. But once the defiance kicked in, it was vintage Saddam Hussein.

CNN brought in Jerrold Post, founder of the CIA's psychological profiling division, who later did his own profile of Saddam, to give his take on the man's performance.

"Well, I'm really struck. This is Saddam in command. He looks intense, focused, he's concentrating," Post said of Saddam's overall physical appearance. "What a remarkable contrast this decisive man in charge is with the amazing image we saw emerging from the spider hole."

Viewing the tape of Saddam just after his capture in December 2003, being examined by the coalition, Post observed, "Look at this compliant, 'little man' in a sense, obediently opening his mouth for the dental exam, then submitting and indeed bending his head for, while they search for lice. This is a Saddam that had never been seen before, yet -- I really want to emphasize -- this is the core Saddam psychologically."

At one point, before a judge many years his junior, Saddam sensed something, gathered his bravado and seemed to take over the proceedings.

"I can imagine him thinking, 'Young man, do you realize whom you're talking to? I am the president of Iraq,' and treating him with total contempt. And indeed, that is what continues to play out: Him taking charge of the courtroom," said Post.

Saddam did take charge, asking the judge to introduce himself, questioning the judge's credentials and stating his own.

"This is a theme he stresses throughout," said Post. "Not past tense. 'I am the President of the Republic of Iraq.' And after all, he got a 99 percent-plus election tally. So for him, this whole procedure is illegitimate."

When the judge began to read charges, including the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Saddam exploded.

"This is an illegal session! ... I know what I am talking about!" said Saddam

"He still sees that war as justified, a very political paranoid in full flower," Post said.

According to Post, when he spoke about the criminal being President Bush, Saddam emphasized, "I am an actor on the world stage. I am talking to the world. And I am going to persuade the world forcibly. I am in charge of Iraq. This is illegitimate, and my radical Arab followers should applaud my courage in still defying the West."

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