DUBAI — Following his interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, veteran interviewer Charlie Rose praised the man who some refer to as “the butcher of Damascus” for his “impeccable manners” and “polite demeanor.”
“You might not be able to tell from footage that aired, what with all the talk about evidence and Assad threatening retaliation, but Mr. Assad was a kind, gracious host,” reported Rose in a teleconference from Dubai.
In his first televised interview since President Obama declared he would seek congressional approval for military action, Assad denied using chemical weapons and told Rose that the United States should “expect every action” if it follows through with threats to strike.
“’Expect everything’ should be the motto of the presidential palace,” said Rose of Assad’s hospitality. “I didn’t have to ask for a single thing—coffee, tea, slippers—it was all very generous.”
“I was even offered a cigar after the interview, but unfortunately I had to decline. I figured I’d better not light up until all of the evidence came in,” added Rose.
Assad insisted that there is not “a single shred of evidence” that his regime used chemical weapons, and equated Sec. John Kerry’s claims to “the big lie that Colin Powell said” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003.
As for Assad’s demeanor during the interview, Rose said that he was “remarkably calm and conversational.”
“It’s not easy to remain calm when somebody is asking you if you murdered thousands of people with chemical weapons,” admitted Rose. “When you watch the interview, pay attention to Assad’s steadfast gaze. It’s quite remarkable.”
Rose also noted that Assad “didn’t really sound like the monstrous tyrant he probably is.”
“It’s funny—I couldn’t really hear it in his thin little voice. He spoke so softly and gently, with a little lisp. It makes me wonder how he could be capable of murdering 100,000 people.”