MIAMI (CBSMiami) –The agent who interrogated former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein after he was captured is heading the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Miami.
George Piro’s been in charge of the FBI’s Miami bureau for a little over a month but he comes to the job with years of experience, including 7 months as the lead interrogator of Hussein.
“I remember it as if it was yesterday,” said Piro.
Piro got the job questioning Saddam mainly because he’s fluent in Arabic but the assignment helped propel his career, landing him as special agent in charge of the bureau’s fifth biggest office, leading a staff of more than 850 employees.
Their primary mission is defending the U.S. against terrorist threats.
“It is our number one priority and our goal is to try to detect any threats or any events that are developing,” said Piro.
“Is South Florida a target for terrorists,” asked CBS4’s Rick Folbaum.
“South Florida has a diverse population. It’s a wonderful place to visit , a tourist attraction, so by its nature, it’s a target similar to other U.S. cities,” responded Piro.
Agents in the Miami field office also investigate various types of criminal activity, including one type that’s especially common in our area.
“Stolen identity refund fraud is the fastest growing crime in U.S. Unfortunately, South Florida leads the country in that area so we are actively pursuing individuals that are committing these types of offenses and trying to get ahead of this problem before it gets out of control,” said Piro.
The FBI also works with local law enforcement, offering federal investigative tools to combat gang crime in places like Miami Gardens but Piro said it’s the local police who must play the lead role.
“No way is the FBI going to replace the police in their ability to protect the community. That really does fall on the police,” said Piro. “What we can do is certain resources and expand on their capabilities and support them as they try to address the problem in their community.”
Piro said he’s thrilled to be in South Florida, leading an office that is well respected within the FBI. He said his plan is to achieve success here, one step at a time.
“My first interaction with Saddam, I did not go in thinking I had to get him to tell me what happened to his WMD, did he have a relationship with Al Qaeda, that’s too hard to attain. My first goal with Saddam was to get him to ask me to come back to see him the next day. The next one built on that,” said Piro. “It’s those realistic short term goals along with mid-range, put them all together, long term goals seem achievable.”