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60 Minutes’ Saddam Edit

There was a suspiciously abrupt edit during 60 Minutes last night on CBS. In the much-hyped broadcast Scott Pelley was interviewing FBI agent George Piro about his lengthy interrogation of Saddam Hussein. The audience was about to enjoy one of Piro’s supposed intel revelations when the slice occurred. From the 60 Minutes transcript:

What was Saddam’s opinion of Osama Bin Laden?

“He considered him to be a fanatic. And as such was very wary of him. He told me, ‘You can’t really trust fanatics,’” Piro says.

“Didn’t think of Bin Laden as an ally in his effort against the United States in this war against the United States?” Pelley asks.

“No. No. He didn’t wanna be seen with Bin Laden. And didn’t want to associate with Bin Laden,” Piro explains.

No, Piro doesn’t explain. 60 Minutes seems to have cut an artificial end into that last statement (view here with volume high). Piro starts to clarify or add to his comment about Saddam not wanting to associate with bin Laden when the camera and microphone are redirected towards Pelley. It should also be noted that the “No. No.” appears in the transcript only, not in the broadcast.

In a climate of fudged New York Times data on veterans and inflated Iraqi death counts in prominent journals, it doesn’t take a paranoid to want to know what, if anything, George Piro was starting so say when the edit occured. In fact, all Piro suggests up until that point is that Saddam didn’t trust bin Laden and didn’t want to be seen with him. This has no bearing on whether or not he’d work with him. Some important contextual clarifications may have followed and are now on CBS’ proverbial cutting room floor. Additionally, the “No. No.” needs to be accounted for.

60 Minutes take on this issue is particularly curious because Piro represents the Iraq Survey Group, and the most important (and underreported) finding of that body is that Saddam had financial and operational ties to various Islamist terrorist organizations throughout the region.

60 Minutes needs to make George Piro’s unedited answer available, so there can be no confusion on Piro’s understanding of Saddam’s terrorist associations.