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The upcoming issue of the Weekly Standard has two excellent articles that provide people with absolutely essential information on the war in Iraq. First is Stephen Hayes' report on the documents that the DIA refuses to release under a Freedom of Information Act request which appear to refute the conventional narrative of the war. Hayes has gained access to the index for these documents, but even though the documents remain unclassified, the DIA refuses to release them or to provide access for Hayes:
FOR THE SECOND TIME IN recent weeks the Department of Defense has denied a request from The Weekly Standard to release unclassified documents recovered in postwar Iraq. These documents apparently reveal, in some detail, activities of Saddam Hussein's regime in the years before the war. This second denial could also be the final one: According to two Pentagon sources, the program designed to review, translate, and analyze data from the old Iraqi regime may be shuttered at the end of December, not just placing the documents beyond the reach of journalists, but also making them inaccessible to policymakers.
As a consequence, the ongoing debate over the Iraq war and its origins is taking place without crucial information about the former Iraqi regime and its relationships with presumed U.S. allies and known U.S. enemies. Despite the determined shredding and burning efforts of regime officials in the dying days of Saddam Hussein's government, much of this information still exists--in handwritten documents, in videotapes and audiotapes, in photographs and satellite images, on computer hard drives. All told, the U.S. government has in its possession more than 2 million "exploitable" items from the former Iraqi regime (the intelligence community's term of art for information it thinks might be useful). According to sources with knowledge of the project, now two and a half years old, only 50,000 documents have been translated and fully exploited. Few of those translated documents have been circulated to policymakers in the Bush administration. And although one of the translated documents was leaked to the New York Times last summer, none of the others has been released, formally or informally.
The result: Much of today's debate about the threat posed three years ago by Saddam Hussein's Iraq is based on past assessments by U.S. intelligence agencies that we now know had no real sources on the ground in Iraq.
Here are a few descriptions of documents Hayes has discovered in the captured Iraqi documents:
* Intelligence coded memo by two IIS officers containing info on various topics; weapons boat, Palestinians training in Iraq, etc.
* Concerning mass graves found in the south: Check for nuclear radiation, identify bodies, ensure that CNN is the first news agency onsite. Any funerals should have an international impact. Signed by Hussein.
* Various correspondence e.g. visa forms, trade delegations, full reports on the connections between Abu Sayaf and the Qadafi Charity Establishment. Report on a certain individual traveling to Pakistan and involvements with bin Laden.
Palestinians training in Iraq? I thought that Iraq had no connections to terrorists, according to the media. Of course, by media I mean CNN -- the agency that Saddam Hussein wanted to ensure got first access to gravesites in case the mass graves ever got found. Presumably Saddam ordered this because in February 2001 (when this order was written), Eason Jordan had corrupted the media outlet enough that Saddam could trust CNN to broadcast a cover story blaming the bodies on the American use of depleted-uranium shells during Gulf War I. The third appears to connect Iraq not just to Osama bin Laden but also to the al-Qaeda linked Islamic terror efforts in the Phillippines.
Read all of the frustration Hayes has suffered trying to get the DIA to release these documents. While you're there, be sure to read Fred Barnes' demolition of the poll numbers that Democrats have thrown around in their debate over the past month about the 80% of Iraqis who want the Americans to immediately withdraw from their country:
If we knew the "internals" of the poll's sample, we could say for sure whether 82 percent of a representative sample of Iraqis said they favored immediate withdrawal. I contacted Rayment, who broke the poll story, and learned the sample size (1,264 Iraqis), but not the breakdown of Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds. That remains unknown, at least publicly. It matters, though. If the sample consisted disproportionately of Sunnis, for example, that would explain a high number of respondents who want U.S. forces to withdraw immediately. However, it wouldn't be a faithful reflection of overall Iraqi opinion.
Earlier polls tell a different (and clearer) story, though still not one that's favorable to keeping American troops in Iraq indefinitely. In March 2004, a BBC poll of 2,500 Iraqis found that 51 percent opposed the continued presence of coalition troops in their country. And in May 2004, a poll in six Iraqi cities, including ones with significant Sunni populations, put the percentage of Iraqis who want coalition forces to "leave immediately" at 41 percent. And 55 percent said they would feel safer if those forces left.
Be sure to read the entire analysis. Until we know more about how this survey got conducted and the sample used, it seems prudent to treat this as an outlier at best, and potentially dishonest.Sphere It View blog reactions
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