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Round Table: February 10.012 . Preliminary analysis of the Saddam Hussein project. Who is Saddam Hussein?. Saddam Hussein. Having a whole generation of Iraqi and Americans grow up without understanding each other (can have) negative implications and could lead to mix-ups (Saddam Hussein,1983)

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Round Table: February 10.012

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Round Table: February 10.012

Preliminary analysis of the Saddam Hussein project

Who is Saddam Hussein?

Saddam Hussein

  • Having a whole generation of Iraqi and Americans grow up without understanding each other (can have) negative implications and could lead to mix-ups (Saddam Hussein,1983)

  • (Saddam borrowed the quotation from Rumsfeld in a statement delivered during his discussion with the Iraqi minister 1983)

Who is Saddam Hussein?

  • Time Line:

  • 1980-attacked Hussein

  • 1988-War with Iran ends

  • 1990-War with Kuwait

  • 2003-Iran attacked by the US

  • 2006-Hussein is executed

Context of data collection

  • ‘Why do you think we trusted the Prophets? It is because they recorded every incident’

  • (Saddam Hussein, circa 1991)

  • Important meetings with army generals recorded.

  • Meetings with political leaders

  • Meetings with foreign dignitaries

Types of data collected

  • Extensive collection of ‘state records’

  • Videos

History of such type of data collection

  • Records collected at the end of World War 11

  • Records were collected at the end of the Cold War after the collapse of the Communist Regimes

  • Hours of audio tape

  • Limited number of videos

Open sources

  • A total of eleven thousand records were lodged on the internet

  • In 2006 some of the tapes removed when it was reported that some of the files on the internet contained information on the formation of nuclear weapons !


  • Advantages: Eavesdropping

  • Ability to follow the same individual over time on the same topic e.g. Saddam analyzing recordings about military intelligence over a long period of let's say a decade

Comparison with other dictators

  • ‘Historic, Secret Recording of Hitler’s 1942 visit to Finland Aired on Radio’ (Matti Huuhtanen)

  • Unlike Saddam’s recordings, Hitler was unaware of the eleven minute conversation.

Vernacular Speech

  • Not obtainable by other means’ unguarded speech

  • ‘…being almost unfiltered.. give eavesdroppers the experience of high level decision probable not obtainable by other means’

  • Letters, diaries, and memoirs

Examples of topics covered

  • Articles by Islamic Sheiks and preachers on the legality of martyrdom operations such as suicide bombings in Islamic jurisprudence

  • 5-Nov-91 Dossier regarding the role of the first Iraqi Force in the 1991 Gulf War, including planning, preparation, and management of the war.


  • 9-Jan-01 to 31-March-01 Minutes of a meeting between 1st Military Intelligence Division discussing Saddam’s previous speeches and meetings

  • July-02 to Octobers-02 Reports of daily events within the Iraqi Army Corps and schedules showing detailed information regarding the damage to Tammuz and Ali Air Bases


  • 2001-2002 Study and correspondence regarding expected U.S attack on Iraq, including best practices for fighting United State

  • 22 October-00 Correspondence within Iraqi Intelligence Service regarding scientific ideas to produce viruses and germs to pollute the water tanks for the United States camps in Kuwait and Saudi Arabs

Theoretical Framework

  • Systemic Functional Analysis

  • (Transitivity)

  • Critical Discourse Analysis

Systemic Functional Linguistics

  • Systemic Functional Linguistics

  • Field, Tenor and Mode

  • (Halliday,1994;Matthiesen 1995;Martin,1992)

  • Content=topic=what=field=ideational=war, ‘people who can collect information’

  • Tenor=interpersonal relations=relationships with other soldiers=enemy=relationship=martyrs


  • Translations

  • Transcriptions

  • Identifying the voices of participants (in each instance)

  • Summation of merits

  • Ecological approach to linguistics and history

  • ‘ How components interact to become systems whose nature can’t be defined merely by calculating the sum of the part’ (John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History: How historians Map the Past’. New York: Oxford University Press (2004).

International Law

  • State records, moveable property

  • (International Law)

  • The US returned the state records to Germany but kept some which were handed to scholars

  • Will the ‘state records’ be returned !

    The issue here is that they are regarded as ‘state records’ and not ‘data’

Limitations of the data

  • Conversations were short versions of longer conversation

  • In his interrogation of his speech with Brian Piro.

  • Tape is the official document

  • Transcripts are an interpretation of that document

  • Transcriptions may not capture nuances of meaning


  • Transcriptions are ‘treacherous’ and ‘inevitable (David Greenberg 2003).

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