Tom Brokaw: President Clinton Thought Saddam Hussein Had WMD

Appearing as a guest on Wednesday's Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw recounted some of the rationale behind why the Bush administration believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq, even noting that President Clinton had also believed in the presence of WMD. (Video below)

Brokaw related evidence that the Iraqi dictator had tried to deceive Iran into believing he possessed WMD, and noted that the people of Iraq lived in "sheer terror" and were afraid to talk to the NBC anchor when he visited the country during Saddam Hussein's reign.

After host Piers Morgan asked Brokaw about the difference between America's approach to the war effort in Libya versus its more direct invasion of Iraq, Brokaw noted that a distinction between what the U.S. faced in the two countries was that Saddam Hussein "had the iron fist over that entire country." Brokaw:

Saddam Hussein really had the iron fist over that entire country, had an enormous military that was there. I was in Iraq several times before the war began, and the sheer terror of people in the streets of Iraq afraid to talk to you in any way because they didn't know whether they would be eliminated and the kind of terror techniques that he unleashed on people, the most innocent people in Iraq for the smallest, slight however he perceived it. So those are two different circumstances.

The former NBC anchor went on to recount the reasons people believed Iraq had WMD:

A lot of people believed that he did have weapons of mass destruction. President Clinton did, in fact. I was over there with the U.N. weapons inspector and it was not clear. I would fly over later acres and acres and miles and miles of what they call igloos. These are ammunition storage depots, and General Petraeus said to me one day, "We don't know what's in there." Well, it turns out not much because he was trying to kind of rope a dope Iran, trying to persuade Iran that he had weapons of mass destruction. And my own belief is that some of his colonels generated a lot of paper that indicated they had weapons, they were getting money from him, and some of that money may be stored away somewhere.

Below is a trancript of the relevant exchange from the Wednesday, December 14, Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN:

PIERS MORGAN: I mean, certainly Libya was a very, very interesting exercise in the way that America could do these kind of wars, for want of a better phrase, going forward, in the sense that they had a bad guy who'd run a bad regime as Saddam Hussein had done for decades. But rather than go all guns blazing leading the international coalition forces, the Americans took a backseat, and no American soldiers lost their lives. Gaddafi was taken out. What do you think about the changing manner in which American military is now deploying itself?

TOM BROKAW: That was an easier call for the involvement of the American military as part of a NATO force. Primarily it was air power and some strategic and tactical advice on the ground because there had been an uprising against Gaddafi that was indigenous, that had started in that country.

We didn't have that in Iraq. Saddam Hussein really had the iron fist over that entire country, had an enormous military that was there. I was in Iraq several times before the war began, and the sheer terror of people in the streets of Iraq afraid to talk to you in any way because they didn't know whether they would be eliminated and the kind of terror techniques that he unleashed on people, the most innocent people in Iraq for the smallest, slight however he perceived it. So those are two different circumstances.

A lot of people believed that he did have weapons of mass destruction. President Clinton did, in fact. I was over there with the U.N. weapons inspector and it was not clear. I would fly over later acres and acres and miles and miles of what they call igloos. These are ammunition storage depots, and General Petraeus said to me one day, "We don't know what's in there." Well, it turns out not much because he was trying to kind of rope a dope Iran, trying to persuade Iran that he had weapons of mass destruction. And my own belief is that some of his colonels generated a lot of paper that indicated they had weapons, they were getting money from him, and some of that money may be stored away somewhere.