On the one hand, it seems to be implying the Bush administration was incompetent in allowing a “cookbook for building nuclear weapons” to be published on the Internet for all the world to see. But on the other hand, to believe the documents constitute a threat, we’d have to acknowledge that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed the actual know-how to build a nuke, and was a year away from actually having one. I don’t think the Left is ready to accept such an argument.
From the article:
Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.
But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
Jim Geraghty says:
I think the Times editors are counting on this being spun as a “Boy, did Bush screw up” meme; the problem is, to do it, they have to knock down the “there was no threat in Iraq” meme, once and for all. Because obviously, Saddam could have sold this information to anybody, any other state, or any well-funded terrorist group that had publicly pledged to kill millions of Americans and had expressed interest in nuclear arms. You know, like, oh… al-Qaeda.
The New York Times just tore the heart out of the antiwar argument, and they are apparently completely oblivous to it.
The antiwar crowd is going to have to argue that the information somehow wasn’t dangerous in the hands of Saddam Hussein, but was dangerous posted on the Internet. It doesn’t work. It can’t be both no threat to America and yet also somehow a threat to America once it’s in the hands of Iran. Game, set, and match.
Exactly how far along was Saddam’s nuclear research that Iran might possibly benefit from it?
Why is the IAEA worried about Iran using bombmaking information in their “peaceful nuclear energy program”?
Captain Ed asks:
If the nuclear documents on the website are authentic, does that mean the ones linking Saddam to Al Qaeda are authentic too?
He’s referring to these documents (which I posted the titles of a year ago):
1. Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) Correspondence to Iraq Embassy in the Philippines and Iraq MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
2. Possible al Qaeda Terror Members in Iraq
3. IIS report on Taliban-Iraq Connections Claims
4. Money Transfers from Iraq to Afghanistan
5. IIS Agent in Bulgaria
6. Iraqi Intel report on Kurdish Activities: Mention of Kurdish Report on al Qaeda–reference to al Qaeda presence in Salman Pak
7. IIS report about the relationship between IIS and the Kurdish Group Jalal Talibani [sic]
8. Iraqi Mukhabarat Structure
9. Locations of Weapons/Ammunition Storage (with map)
10. Iraqi Effort to Cooperate with Saudi Opposition Groups and Individuals
11. Order from Saddam to present $25,000 to Palestinian Suicide Bombers Families
12. IIS reports from Embassy in Paris: Plan to Influence French Stance on U.N. Security Council
13. IIS Importing and Hiding High Tech Computers in Violation of UN
14. IIS request to move persons, documents to private residences
15. Formulas and information about Iraq’s Chemical Weapons Agents
16. Denial and Deception of WMD and Killing of POWs
17. 1987 orders by Hussein to use chemical weapons in the Ealisan Basin
18. Ricin research and improvement
19. Personnel file of Saad Mohammad Abd Hammadi al Deliemi
20. Memo from the Arab Liaison Committee: With a list of personnel in need of official documents
21. Fedayeen Saddam Responds to IIS regarding rumors of citizens aiding Afghanistan
22. Document from Uday Hussein regarding Taliban activity
23. Improvised Explosive Devices Plan
24. IIS reports on How French Campaigns are Financed
25. French and German relationships with Iraq
26. IIS reports about Russian Companies–News articles and potential IIS agents
27. IIS plan for 2000 of Europe’s Influence of Iraq Strategy
28. IIS plans to infiltrate countries and collect information to help remove sanctions
29. Correspondence from IIS and the stations in Europe
30. Contract for satellite pictures between Russia, France and Iraq: Pictures of Neighboring Countries (Dec. 2002)
31. Chemical Gear for Fedayeen Saddam
32. Memo from the IIS to Hide Information from a U.N. Inspection team (1997)
33. Chemical Agent Purchase Orders (Dec. 2001)
34. Iraq Ministry of Defense Calls for Investigation into why documents related to WMD were found by UN inspection team
35. Correspondence between various Iraq organizations giving instructions to hide chemicals and equipment
36. Correspondence from IIS to MIC regarding information gathered by foreign intelligence satellites on WMD (Dec. 2002)
37. Correspondence from IIS to Iraqi Embassy in Malaysia
38. Cleaning chemical suits and how to hide chemicals
39. IIS plan of what to do during UNSCOM inspections (1996)
40. Secret Meeting with Taliban Group Member and Iraqi Government (Nov. 2000)
And of course, Michelle Malkin catches the irony in the New York Times “accusing the Bush administration of being careless with national security data”.
I think Geraghty sums it up pretty well:
Having now read it, I can see that every stop has been pulled out to ensure that a reader will believe that posting these documents was a strategic blunder of the first order.
But the story retains its own inherent contradiction: The information in these documents is so dangerous, that every step must be taken to ensure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands… except for topping the regime that actually has the documents.
Can’t have it both ways, folks.
None other than Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the dead cockroach leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. The text accompanying the picture says:
2002 Iraqi Intelligence Correspondence concerning the presence of al-Qaida Members in Iraq. Correspondence between IRS members on a suspicion, later confirmed, of the presence of an Al-Qaeda terrorist group. Moreover, it includes photos and names.
2002 as in pre-2003 invasion.
U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra reponds to the NYTimes story:
“Yesterday’s article by the New York Times highlights a number of important issues with respect to Iraq’s WMD programs, as well as the importance of the documents that have been recovered in Iraq,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “I am pleased that the document release program continues to stimulate public discussion of these issues.
“With respect to the possibility that documents may have been released that should not have been released, I have always been clear that the Director of National Intelligence should take whatever steps necessary to withhold sensitive documents. In fact, as of today the DNI had withheld 59 percent of the documents that it had reviewed, and has become more risk-averse over time. If the DNI believes that the documents that were released were in the safe 40 percent, imagine what the 60 percent being withheld must contain.
“That said, it is also important to emphasize that the IAEA, contrary to its assertions, never raised any concerns about this material with the United States Government before going to the press. Similarly, the DNI’s office has informed me that no agency of the U.S. Government had raised any issues about the potential or actual release of these documents before yesterday. If there were such problems, they would have been better addressed through the appropriate channels rather than the press.
“These documents also raise several additional issues of interest. First, it is extraordinary that the New York Times now acknowledges that the captured documents demonstrate that ‘[Saddam] Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.’ This only reinforces the value of these documents in understanding the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Only 1 percent of the estimated 120 million pages of captured documents have been reviewed, and we must continue working to promptly understand these materials. If there is concern about Saddam’s nuclear program, there should be similar concern about potential connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda suggested in the documents.
“Second, my staff’s preliminary review of the documents in question suggests that at least some of them may be internal IAEA documents. There is a serious question of why and how the Iraqis obtained these documents in the first place. We need to explore that carefully - I certainly hope there will be no evidence that the IAEA had been penetrated by Saddam’s regime.
“Finally, it is disappointing but not surprising that the New York Times would continue to participate in such blatant and transparent political ploys, including what I believe are improper efforts by the IAEA to interfere with U.S. domestic affairs. The sad reality is that the New York Times has done far more damage to U.S. national security by the disclosure of vital, classified, intelligence programs than is likely to be caused by the inadvertent disclosure of decades-old information that had already been in the hands of Saddam’s regime.”