And now, we're going to take "A Closer Look" at startling new revelations about Saddam Hussein and what went on behind closed doors at the highest levels of his government. ABC News has obtained tapes of conversations between Saddam and his closest aides, talking about terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The tapes were recovered by the CIA in Baghdad, and they'll be heard here for the first time tonight. ABC's Brian Ross is here with the exclusive report.
BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS
We've heard 12 hours of these secret tapes provided to us by a former member of the UN weapons inspection team who was translating them for the FBI. US officials confirm the tapes we have are authentic, secretly recorded in Saddam's palace in the mid-1990s between the two Gulf wars.
"Terrorism is coming," says Saddam Hussein, in one of the most dramatic moments on the tapes, as he talks or muses with his cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. Saddam says he warned the Americans "that in the future, there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction." He continues, "What would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" But he says Iraq would not be involved. "This is coming," says Saddam. "This story is coming, but not from Iraq." Tariq Aziz then adds, "Sir, the biological is very easy to make. It's so simple that any biologist can make a bottle of germs and drop it into a water tower and kill 100,000. An American in a house near the White House could do it," Aziz says.
REPRESENTATIVE PETE HOEKSTRA, R-MI, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE
It appears that they are authentic. From reading some of the transcripts, you would think that it's pretty likely that there were WMD's that were hidden or that were moved out of the country.
The tapes reveal in their own words Iraqi efforts to hide information about weapons of mass destruction from the UN inspectors in the 1990s. "We did not reveal all that we have," Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel tells him in a 1995 meeting just before Kamel defected. "We did not reveal the volume of the chemical weapons that we had produced," he says.
CHARLES DUELFER, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR
The inspectors persisted, and this became a pattern of, you know, cheat and retrieve. Reveal a little, get a little.
We visited all the buildings.
Charles Duelfer, who led the official US search for weapons of mass destruction after the war, says the tapes show extensive deception, but don't prove there are weapons still hidden in Iraq.
What they do is support the conclusion that the regime had the intention of building and rebuilding weapons of mass destruction.
In fact, Saddam's aides can be heard on the tape telling him they stand ready to resume work. "We are ready, sir, at your disposal. If you say resume activity in any specific area, we're here and prepared." "With God's help," replies Saddam, "they will lose and you will win, God willing."
Officials tell us these tapes are being translated for possible use at Saddam's trial.