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Saddam Documents - More than meets the eye

Keep your eyes on this

"WASHINGTON -- The government is classifying too many documents confiscated since the 2003 Iraq invasion that might help rewrite the history on Saddam Hussein's rule, the House Intelligence Committee's Republican chairman said Tuesday.

Intelligence agencies also aren't doing enough to study the repository of information, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., told an audience at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

"The bottom line on the documents is that they give us an insight into Saddam's rule that didn't exist before," Hoekstra said. "I would love to be up here giving you a detailed brief of what the intelligence community has found in the documents. I can't do that."

After six months of negotiations, Hoekstra secured an agreement with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to have millions of pages of Iraqi documents - most of which are in Arabic - reviewed for public release. Now, they are sitting in a military-run warehouse in Qatar.

Hoekstra said 4,000 documents - totaling at least 325,000 pages - have been made public, but some 37 percent of those reviewed have been deemed classified. That number is too high to him.

Carl Kropf, a spokesman to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, called the government's release of documents during ongoing hostilities "unprecedented."

"The bias is toward release," Kropf added.

Hoekstra believes the intelligence community has abdicated its responsibility to review the confiscated documents as part of a lessons-learned study on the state of Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion. Instead, he said, the government is leaving the work to a "cottage industry" of private sector experts.

With such a review, Hoekstra suspects new details about the regime's ugly behavior could emerge. He pointed to one 1998 document about a standing order to hide or destroy information on Iraq's weapons to stifle United Nations weapons inspectors.

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Hoekstra is a leading voice among a small group of Republicans who in recent weeks have tried to redefine the debate over the United States' inability to find weapons stockpiles in Iraq, as the U.S. spy agencies predicted.

Hoekstra and Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., recently pressed for the release of a military intelligence report about 500 chemical weapons munitions found in Iraq over the last several years. The two lawmakers and other Republicans saw them as evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, although intelligence officials played down their significance because the vintage munitions dated from the 1980s.

Democrats also dismissed the intelligence report as old news.

"The existence of this stuff was anticipated," California Rep. Jane Harman, the intelligence panel's top Democrat, said in a recent interview. "These are degraded weapons."

Aside from the "Cottage Industry Experts remark (no doubt referring to bloggers like Ray Obison), it's no doubt that Hoekstra has been busy lately, but he's not insane. The documents he is wanting to be released, will be - along with a boat load of other stuff in the coming months.

As for Harmen and the rest of the Dem-Clowns....

A quote: "The administration let the Democrats start the WMD argument.....the Administration is going to close it"


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