Why weren't these documents released three years ago?
/shaking head in disbelief
From last week or two:
On February 16, President George W. Bush assembled a small group of congressional Republicans for a briefing on Iraq.
"Yesterday, Mr. President, the war had its best night on the network news since the war ended," Pence said.
"Is this the tapes thing?" Bush asked
Pence framed his response as a question, quoting Abraham Lincoln: "One of your Republican predecessors said, 'Give the people the facts and the Republic will be saved.' There are 3,000 hours of Saddam tapes and millions of pages of other documents that we captured after the war. When will the American public get to see this information?"
Bush replied that he wanted the documents released. He turned to Hadley and asked for an update. Hadley explained that John Negroponte, Bush's Director of National Intelligence, "owns the documents" and that DNI lawyers were deciding how they might be handled.
Bush extended his arms in exasperation and worried aloud that people who see the documents in 10 years will wonder why they weren't released sooner. "If I knew then what I know now," Bush said in the voice of a war skeptic, "I would have been more supportive of the war."
Bush told Hadley to expedite the release of the Iraq documents. "This stuff ought to be out. Put this stuff out."
For months, Negroponte has argued privately that while the documents may be of historical interest, they are not particularly valuable as intelligence product. A statement by his office in response to the recordings aired by ABC said, "Analysts from the CIA and the DIA reviewed the translations and found that, while fascinating from a historical perspective, the tapes do not reveal anything that changes their postwar analysis of Iraq's weapons programs."
Officials involved with DOCEX--as the U.S. government's document exploitation project is known to insiders--tell The Weekly Standard that only some 3 percent of the 2 million captured documents have been fully translated and analyzed.
Perhaps anticipating the weakness of his "mere history" argument, Negroponte abruptly shifted his position last week. He still opposes releasing the documents, only now he claims that the information in these documents is so valuable that it cannot be made public. Negroponte gave a statement to Fox News responding to Hoekstra's call to release the captured documents. "These documents have provided, and continue to provide, actionable intelligence to ongoing operations. . . . It would be ill-advised to release these materials without careful screening because the material includes sensitive and potentially harmful information."
This new position raises two obvious questions: If the documents have provided actionable intelligence, why has the intelligence community exploited so few of them? And why hasn't Negroponte demanded more money and manpower for the DOCEX program?
Sadly, these obvious questions have an obvious answer. The intelligence community is not interested in releasing documents captured in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq. Why this is we can't be sure. But Pete Hoekstra offers one distinct possibility.
"They are State Department people who want to make no waves and don't want to do anything that would upset anyone," he says.
This is not idle speculation. In meetings with Hoekstra, Negroponte and his staff have repeatedly expressed concern that releasing this information might embarrass our allies.
Although Negroponte continues to argue against releasing the documents in internal discussions, on March 9, he approached Hoekstra with a counterproposal. Negroponte offered to release some documents labeled "No Intelligence Value," and indicated his willingness to review other documents for potential release, subject to a scrub for sensitive material.
And there, of course, is the potential problem. Negroponte could have been releasing this information all along, but chose not to. So, in a way, nothing really changes. Hoekstra is not going away. "We're going to ride herd on this. This is a step in the right direction, but I am in no way claiming victory. I want these documents out."
So does President Bush. You'd think that would settle it.
posted on 03/18/2006 9:59:05 AM PST
(I'm in no Al-Samood for this Shi'ite.)
Yes, I saw that transcript. "Negroponte could have been releasing this information all along, but chose not to.". Looks like GW had a little chat with Negroponte. Probably went something like this: "You have 24 hours to release these documents or clear out your desk."
posted on 03/18/2006 10:22:49 AM PST
(A Liberal: One who demands half of your pie, because he didn't bake one.)
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