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Captive Saddam misses Ronald Reagan, magazine says

Reuters | June 20, 2005

NEW YORK - Saddam Hussein likes Doritos, washes his hands compulsively and thinks fondly of the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, according to American soldiers who guarded him and tell their story in the July issue of GQ magazine.

The jailed former Iraqi leader described how Reagan, who was president during the time of Iraq's 1980-88 war with Iran, sold him planes and helicopters. "Reagan and me, good,"' Saddam said, according to the article by Lisa DePaulo in the July issue that goes on sale June 28.

"He said, 'I wish things were like when Ronald Reagan was still president,"' said one of the soldiers who guarded him.

The article recounts the stories of five U.S. soldiers from the Pennsylvania National Guard who watched over the captive for nearly a year. All five have completed their tours of duty and returned home, the article said.

President Bush and his father, former President George H. W. Bush, are "no good," while former President Bill Clinton was "OK," Saddam told his captors. The former president led a U.N.-coalition that defeated Saddam in the 1991 Gulf War after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

No date has been set for the trial of Saddam before an Iraqi Special Tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity.

Saddam said he wants to talk to Bush "to make peace with him," they said. "He knows I have nothing, no mass weapons. He knows he'll never find them," they quoted him as saying.

He told the soldiers he had never dealt with Osama bin Laden. The toppled leader, whom the Iraqi government wants to put on trial for mass killings, seemed convinced he would return to power, they also said.

"He still thinks he's the president," one soldier said. They said Saddam told them "when this was all over," he wanted them to stay in his palace and see how beautiful Iraq was.

Of his capture in December 2003, when soldiers found him in a spider hole in the ground, Saddam said only one person knew where he was hiding and betrayed him. He was captured near his hometown of Tikrit, months after the U.S.-led military campaign had overthrown his regime.

According to GQ, Saddam liked to tell jokes, write poetry, tend to his garden and smoke cigars.

He likes Doritos, which he would eat by sprinkling drops of water into the chips' bag beforehand, the soldiers said. He requested a pingpong table but was refused, they said.

He would offer them advice on women, they said.

"He was like, 'You gotta find a good woman. Not too smart, not too dumb. Not too old, not too young. In the middle. One that can cook and clean. Then you thank her, and you go...' And Saddam smiled and made the gesture of bending a woman over and spanking her, as if to say: This is how you keep her in line," one soldier said.

Saddam told them he had hired his son Uday three prostitutes for the three nights before his wedding.

"He said the first night, this girl came and gave it to Uday pretty good," one soldier said. "So Saddam asked his son if he was ready for the next one. 'No,' Uday told Saddam. 'This one was enough.' Saddam thought this was hilarious."

The captive would wash his hands immediately after shaking someone's hand and would wipe down his tray, table and eating utensils meticulously before eating, they said.

The soldiers were interviewed in accordance with exit papers they signed when they left Iraq that prohibit them from revealing locations and various other specifics about Saddam's captivity, the article said.

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