Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Digitizing Millions of Documents Taken from Iraq - Iraq Is Wanting Them Back for Historical Reasons

Update on Saddam Hussein era Iraq documents

Aseel Kami, recently reported for Reuters that some officials in the current Iraqi government are making a push for the return of millions of Saddam Hussein-era Iraq documents (previously the subject of Congressional inquiries and public controversy) that were seized by the U.S. government and other non-government entities following the former regime's fall in 2003.

Kami wrote:
The files include intelligence papers on Iraqis kept by Saddam Hussein's feared secret police, information on weapons arsenals, detailed plans of massacres of the regime's enemies and even tapes of songs praising Saddam, officials said.
Some of these files have been made public while others were made available to the authors of The Iraqi Perspectives Project, Duelfer Report and other investigations into Saddam Hussein's activities.
Others just went missing in the chaos and looting in the early months of the U.S.-led invasion which toppled Saddam.
"Dictatorships document everything, from the simplest details to the biggest events in their citizens' lives," said Saad Eskander, director of the national library and archives. He added that he thought some were still with the CIA.

The Iraqi National Library and Archive (found here) is reportedly leading the pursuit of documents though it is likely that Iraq's "Red Museum" will be another party involved in the efforts.

One of the non-government entities in possession of the former Iraqi regime's documents is the Hoover Foundation. Officials with knowledge of the Hoover Foundation's cache indicated that the millions of documents they obtained from the Iraq Memory Foundation are a fraction of the approximately 100 million the Department of Defense and other U.S. agencies have. Those officials further said that documents are still being organized for a possible move to digital format before a planned move to the internet for historians and researchers to analyze though they urged caution with the release of documents that name former regime officials and their allies as well as their victims.

When asked about reported CIA possession of such documents current and former CIA officials directed requests for information to the Department of Defense and another former intelligence official, who was familiar with the story, told this site that originals were all supposed to be in Iraq or Qatar and that if the Iraqis wanted to expedite process they should contact their in-country DIA representative and prepare a large data store.

When reached for comment on this story Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Almarah Belk said that while her knowledge of the topic was limited she was able to confirm that the process of archiving and digitizing materials was a joint effort by the DOD and intelligence community and was moving forward though some documents may need further exploitation and many were still classified....