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Gary Younge
Interrogation may last for months

While military commanders described the former Iraqi leader as being talkative on Sunday, those interrogating him say that after giving up without a fight he has been defiant and unrepentant.

"He's not been very cooperative," one official told Time magazine. He said the transcript of Saddam's interrogation, carried out by CIA and military officials, was full of "Saddam rhetoric-type stuff".

When asked, "How are you?", Saddam reportedly responded: "I am sad because my people are in bondage."

When offered a glass of water, he replied: "If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?"

When asked whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction he said: "No, of course not, the US dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us."

Asked why he did not then let United Nations inspectors examine his facilities, he said: "We didn't want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy."

Basing their judgment on interrogation of senior al-Qaida members, intelligence officials say it will be months before Saddam talks.

So far US authorities have been surprised by the extent to which Saddam is incapable of giving any coherent information. They say he appears inexplicably disoriented and his handlers are trying to fathom whether he is frightened or mentally ill.

Either way, they hope that the interrogation will soon clarify what role, if any, Saddam may have had in directing the current insurgency. One official told Time: "We can now determine if he is the mastermind of everything or not. Have we actually cut the head of the snake or is he just an idiot hiding in a hole?"

But Saddam's sister, Nawal Ibrahim al-Hasan, told London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi from an unidentified Arabic capital: "He must have been subjected to drugs or nerve gas to paralyse him, for he is not one to surrender in this humiliating manner."

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