Feb. 15, 2006 — -- ABC News has obtained 12 hours of tape recordings of Saddam Hussein meeting with top aides during the 1990s, tapes apparently recorded in Baghdad's version of the Oval Office.
ABC News obtained the tapes from Bill Tierney, a former member of a United Nations inspection team who translated them for the FBI. "Because of my experience being in the inspections and being in the military, I knew the significance of these tapes when I heard them," says Tierney. U.S. officials have confirmed the tapes are authentic, and that they are among hundreds of hours of tapes Saddam recorded in his palace office.
One of the most dramatic moments in the 12 hours of recordings comes when Saddam predicts -- during a meeting in the mid-1990s -- a terrorist attack on the United States. "Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before Aug. 2 and told the British as well ... that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction." Saddam goes on to say such attacks would be difficult to stop. "In the future, what would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" But he adds that Iraq would never do such a thing. "This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq."
Also at the meeting was Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who said Iraq was being wrongly accused of terrorism. "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. This is not done by a state. No need to accuse a state. An individual can do it."
The tapes also reveal Iraq's persistent efforts to hide information about weapons of mass destruction programs from U.N. inspectors well into the 1990s. In one pivotal tape-recorded meeting, which occurred in late April or May of 1995, Saddam and his senior aides discuss the fact that U.N. inspectors had uncovered evidence of Iraq's biological weapons program -- a program whose existence Iraq had previously denied.
At one point Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law and the man who was in charge of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction efforts can be heard on the tapes, speaking openly about hiding information from the U.N.
"We did not reveal all that we have," Kamel says in the meeting. "Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct."
Shortly after this meeting, in August 1995, Hussein Kamel defected to Jordan, and Iraq was forced to admit that it had concealed its biological weapons program. (Kamel returned to Iraq in February 1996 and was killed in a firefight with Iraqi security forces.)
A spokeswoman for John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, said information contained in the transcriptions of the tapes was already known to intelligence officials.
"Intelligence community analysts from the CIA, and the DIA reviewed the translations and found that, while fascinating, from a historical perspective the tapes do not reveal anything that changes their post-war analysis of Iraq's weapons programs nor do they change the findings contained in the comprehensive Iraq Survey group report," she said in a statement.
"The tapes mostly date from early to mid-1990s and cover such topics as relations with the United Nations, efforts to rebuild industries from Gulf war damage and the pre 9/11 situation in Afghanistan."
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says the tapes are authentic and show that "Saddam had a fixation on weapons of mass destruction and he had a fixation on hiding what he was doing from the U.N. inspectors." Hoeckstra says there are more than 35,000 boxes of such tapes and documents that the U.S. government has not analyzed nor made public that should also be translated and studied on an urgent basis.
Charles Duelfer, who led the official U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction after the war, says the tapes show extensive deception but don't prove that weapons were still hidden in Iraq at the time of the U.S.-led war in 2003. "What they do is support the conclusion in the report, which we made in the last couple of years, that the regime had the intention of building and rebuilding weapons of mass destruction, when circumstances permitted."
Tierney, who provided ABC News with the tapes, plans to make the 12 hours of recordings public at a nongovernmental meeting -- called Intelligence Summit 2006 -- this weekend in Arlington, Va. John Loftus, a former federal prosecutor, runs the meeting. "We think this is a tape that is unclassified and available to the public," says Loftus "[I] just want to have it translated and let the tape speak for itself."
ABC News' Hoda Osman and Avni Patel contributed to this report.