By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special CorrespondentTue Mar 21, 5:19 PM ET
Exasperated, besieged by global pressure, Saddam Hussein and top aides searched for ways in the 1990s to prove to the world they'd given up banned weapons.
"We don't have anything hidden!" the frustrated Iraqi president interjected at one meeting, transcripts show.
At another, in 1996, Saddam wondered whether U.N. inspectors would "roam Iraq for 50 years" in a pointless hunt for weapons of mass destruction. "When is this going to end?" he asked.
It ended in 2004, when U.S. experts, after an exhaustive investigation, confirmed what the men in those meetings were saying: that Iraq had eliminated its weapons of mass destruction long ago, a finding that discredited the Bush administration's stated rationale for invading Iraq in 2003 — to locate WMD.
The newly released documents are among U.S. government translations of audiotapes or Arabic-language transcripts from top-level Iraqi meetings — dating from about 1996-97 back to the period soon after the 1991 Gulf War, when the U.N. Security Council sent inspectors to disarm Iraq.