Saddam Hussein, in His Own Words

IMAGE: Saddams Notes

It's as if the words were from the diary of a captive dissident, racked by despair, held in dungeon-like conditions.

"The last three days my total hours of sleep did not exceed four to five hours during all these days, because the place I am in, is similar in its condition to all detention places, it seems, that it was transformed into a place for torturing the detainees at night in general, and also during the day most of the time."

The sleep deprivation, the claims of torture. The sinking hope.

"I don't think that there is anyone with a sensitive and humanitarian heart, who can sleep amidst the screams of the torturers and the ones being tortured."

But the words were not put to paper by the expected prisoner of conscience. They're from the pen of Saddam Hussein, days after U.S. forces wrestled the fugitive dictator from a hole near his hometown of Tikrit in northern Iraq.

In the Dec. 26, 2003, letter, delivered to his military handlers and turned over to the FBI, Hussein is in true form. Arrogant and defiant, he still refers to himself as "the President of the Republic of Iraq" and claims that he has been subject to beatings "after which not a single part of my body was spared of the severe harm that was inflicted by the detention gang."

He would repeat the claim during his trial two years later -- a charge the George W. Bush White House called "preposterous."

In another letter written two days earlier, Hussein described his belongings at the time of his arrest. In addition to "a number of simple necessities, the most important are notebooks with chapters from a story and other written papers," he had carted away as much cash as he could carry -- more than $1 million packaged in an iron safe and a Samsonite case.

ABC News obtained the letters and several hundred other pages of FBI documents concerning Hussein as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed shortly after Hussein's December 2006 execution. Hussein wrote the letters in Arabic, and the FBI documents included the English translation.

Click here to read both letters.

Though past media reports contain pieces of the information, the ABC News request sought all files on Hussein held by the FBI. Among the documents are the letters, a progress report on efforts to interview Hussein, accounts of numerous interviews, apparently with regime officials in U.S. custody, notes, bulletins and other communications.

Hussein's 'All-Important Self-Image'

By the time the FBI team in Baghdad sent the progress report back to Washington in March 2004, it had interviewed Hussein 16 times. Though the stated goal was to "obtain intelligence," the report noted that the initially reticent Hussein might consider cooperating if he believed former regime officals also interviewed by the FBI were "blaming him for the commission of human rights violations, mass executions or the use of weapons of mass destruction.

"Consistent with his personality, he will probably attempt to minimize his involvement in such activities if for no other reason than to preserve his all-important self-image and to ensure a favorable place in history," the report stated.

Though much of the report is redacted, it notes that Hussein began to open up. He ended a hunger strike "for the benefit" of a federal agent, likely his handler, George Piro.

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