Hossam Shaltout, a former political adviser to Saddam Hussein’s son, said today that before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, Saddam expressed his intent to yield to all American demands, but that the Bush administration refused his offers, according to a press release on Yahoo News.
Shaltout is a Canadian citizen who claims he was beaten repeatedly by U.S. officers while in an Iraqi detention camp, under suspicion of once having been a “right hand man” for Saddam Hussein.
“Saddam was willing to yield to all American demands, announced and unannounced, to reach peaceful resolution,” said Shaltout, “but the Bush administration, including Elizabeth Cheney, undersecretary of State, David Welch, the U.S. ambassador in Egypt, and Gene Cretz, his political attache, did not respond to his offers.”
Shaltout claims that in March of 2003, just as he was to read the Iraqi government’s official reply to the Bush ultimatum on Al-Jazeera, the broadcast was interrupted and “the plug was pulled on the transmission.” He also maintains that later, when the Americans arrived in Baghdad, he offered his assistance to U.S. military officials, but instead was arrested by Marines who went to his hotel suite and took his documents.
Left unmentioned in the press release are Shaltout’s claims that he was tortured and abused during his imprisonment.
In May of 2004, Shaltout told his story to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
“I was there to convince Saddam Hussein to step down, and I was in the last hours working on this peace agreement,” Shaltout said. “And I wanted him to keep the agreement that he agreed to step down only 15 minutes before the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of this ultimatum. That was what I was doing there.”
Shaltout claimed that he was beaten and tortured while held in the Iraqi prison in order to extract a false confession that he was once Hussein’s “right-hand man.”
“They wanted me to confess because they found the speech I was going to say and said that I‘m the speechwriter of Saddam Hussein, which I wasn’t,” Shaltout said. “And they want me to confess I am his right-hand man.”
The ACLU has a pdf link which contains Shaltout’s written claims to the U.S. Department of the Army.
According to his Web site, Rights And Freedom International, Shaltout is currently running for President of Egypt.
Excerpts from Shaltout’s press release:
The disclosure was made by Hossam Shaltout, a Canadian aerospace engineer, former American pilot, and founder of the peace organization Rights and Freedom International (http://www.rightsandfreedom.com), who said that war could have been averted, but Bush aides blocked his efforts to announce Saddam’s decision.
Shaltout said he was planning to fly from Amman to Baghdad to announce Saddam’s decision, but the Royal Jordanian Airlines officials claimed that the US ordered the flight to leave five hours earlier causing him to miss the flight, preventing him from announcing on CNN that Saddam would bow to the Bush ultimatum. Shaltout said he traveled by road to Baghdad, delaying him almost one day, but raced to get the communique approved from Saddam to broadcast over international TV stations broadcasting from Baghdad.
Couple of hours before the expiration of the Bush ultimatum, Saddam ordered Colonel Amer, his strongman, to facilitate Shaltout’s broadcast of the communique. Colonel Amer ordered Allaa Mecky, the head of the Iraqi Channel 2 television, to accompany Shaltout and help him broadcast the communique.”
It was very late at night and CNN in Baghdad was closed. So they went to al-Jazeera, and Shaltout told al-Jazeera Washington correspondent Hafez Almirazy on the air that he had the Iraqi government’s official reply to the Bush ultimatum. Moments after Mirazy asked him for a brief, the plug was pulled on the transmission. Shaltout has a copy of that interrupted broadcast.
Shaltout said that when the Americans arrived in Baghdad, he offered his assistance to U.S. military officials. Instead he was arrested by Marines who went to his hotel suite taking his documents. Shaltout has the videotape of his arrest, and several supporting documents.