FBI agent: Saddam lied about WMDs to fake out Iran

Spot the flaw in this logic.

LESTER HOLT: On this Veterans Day, with American troops still embroiled in Iraq, new details are emerging about some of the issues that led the U.S. into war. The secrets of Saddam Hussein are revealed in a new book that includes details from an FBI agent who spent months with the Iraqi leader after his capture. Here’s NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams.

PETE WILLIAMS: Saddam Hussein told his American captors that he so feared Iran, he wanted Iranian leaders to believe that he had nuclear and biological weapons. So he planned to fool the U.S. by, among other things, stalling U.N. inspectors to make it appear he had something to hide, weapons of mass destruction or WMD. But he hoped the post-Gulf War sanctions on Iraq would dissolve, allowing him to pursue a nuclear capability. That’s what he told the only American to extensively debrief him after he was captured in 2003, according to investigative reporter Ron Kessler.

RON KESSLER: Saddam said that if America thought that he had WMD, then, of course, Iran would, and this would fulfill his goal of making sure that Iran did not want to attack Iraq.

A few hundred thousand American troops were massing across the border in Kuwait to knock him out — and Saddam was worried about Iran? This subject came up a few weeks ago in the context of Rudy’s post hoc justification for invading, namely, that if we hadn’t done so, Saddam would have had no choice but to restart his nuke program to keep pace with Tehran. In that sense, the war was true preemption. But follow out the counterfactual. Let’s say Saddam went to the UN and U.S. in February 2003 and came clean: he had no program, it was all a decoy to keep the Iranians honest, what can we do about this unfortunate misunderstanding? What would have/should have happened? Even in the unlikely event that his revelation derailed the war, it would have left Iraq cheek by jowl with a soon-to-be nuclear-armed Iran that no longer had to worry about any Iraqi deterrent. Presumably they would have used the bomb as leverage to extend their influence in the southern Shiite areas, knowing that Saddam wouldn’t dare act against them. You can take it from there.