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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

We should know about Saddam's regime, but not Bush's

The NY Times has an article today about the posting on the web of numerous documents captured in Iraq by invading coalition forces. John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, authorized the release under pressure from Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI).
Mr. Hoekstra said he wanted to "unleash the power of the Net" to do translation and analysis that might take the government decades.

"People today ought to be able to have a closer look inside Saddam's regime," he said.

Mr. Hoekstra said intelligence officials had resisted posting the documents, which he overcame by appealing to President Bush and by proposing legislation to force the release.
Hoekstra and other right-wingers are apparently hoping that the documents will retroactively justify the criminal invasion, somehow negating the findings of the Iraq Survey Group and the 9/11 Commission about Iraq's alleged WMD's and ties to al Qaeda. Whatever. I think it's a good thing; get the information out there.

But Rep. Hoekstra should realize that there's a criminal regime which has a much greater impact on, and is a bigger threat to, the American people than Saddam ever did or could have--the Bush administration. If we need to know what was going on in Iraq, we certainly need to know what is going on here.

Of course the NY Times, a full partner with the Bushies in undertaking the criminal invasion, is busy rewriting history:
The truth about prewar Iraq has proven elusive. The February 2003 presentation Colin L. Powell, the secretary of state at the time, to the United Nations appeared to provide incontrovertible proof of Iraqi weapons, but the claims in the speech have since been discredited.
"Incontrovertible" only to those who were busy studying their own colons from the inside. UN inspectors were in Iraq (despite what Bush says). If Powell had "incontrovertible proof" of weapons, he would have informed the inspectors privately, and Saddam would have been caught red-handed. His presentation to the UN proved precisely nothing, except, in retrospect, that Powell is a baldfaced liar. The Times continues:
Given that track record, some intelligence analysts are horrified at exactly the idea that excites Mr. Hoekstra and the bloggers: that anyone will now be able to interpret the documents.

"There's no quality control," said Michael Scheuer, a former Central Intelligence Agency specialist on terrorism. "You'll have guys out there with a smattering of Arabic drawing all kinds of crazy conclusions. Rush Limbaugh will cherry-pick from the right, and Al Franken will cherry-pick from the left."
That won't be any worse than what Powell did. But the big benefit will be that people like Juan Cole, who know Arabic and the Middle East, will be able to access these documents directly and come to informed conclusions as to what they mean. Not only that. Incredibly, the Times article only discusses that US-based Arabic speakers and various bloggers and pundits will be reviewing these documents. It doesn't even consider the possibility that on the web they will be accessible in the Arab world, including to millions of Iraqis who suffered under Saddam and who now suffer under US occupation. They should be able to learn what was going on in their government before. They should also know who is responsible for what is happening to them now--both Iraqis and Americans have the right to know how the Bush administration decided to go to war. They shouldn't have to wait for enough memos to leak out of Britain--they (we) should have full access to the documents and meeting minutes related to the planning and execution of the invasion.

Get to work on that, won't you, Mr. Hoekstra?