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Document Friday: Declassified Iraqi Memo Points to the Genesis of the Insurgency

June 1, 2012

The destroyed dome of the Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq.  It was bombed by insurgents in 2006 and 2007.

It’s usually pretty exciting to get your hands on a document that was previously classified as Top Secret.  This one was no exception.  After reading it, I just blinked a couple of times and shook my head.

Note that it was written on 23 January 2003, seven days before President George W. Bush announced in his State of the Union address that, “If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.”

Declassified by the Department of Defense Office of Freedom of Information. Props to them.

This document is among the 50,000 boxes of Iraqi documents seized by “DOCEX” during “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and stored at the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office in Fort Leavenworth.  In March 2006 the Bush Administration made these documents public on a website in an attempt to “leverage the internet” to prove that Saddam Hussein did indeed have WMD or intentions to produce WMD.

In November 2006, the website was shuttered after concerns were raised that Saddam’s pre-1991 documents about nukes served as very good “do it yourself” instructions about how to make a nuclear bomb.  (Ironically, fear of this “Restricted Data” –already posted onto the internet by the US government– is the primary reason that the National Archives is epically failing to meet President Obama’s order to declassify 400 million pages of historic documents.)

As Ray Robinson notes, the Islamic Hawza (an Islamic teaching institution) in Najaf is the Shia base of power in Iraq (Saddam’s Baath Regime was predominantly Suni).  The politically influential Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani presides over the Hawza which also has given support to Muqtada al-Sadr and his formidable Mahdi Army.

In Bob Woodward’s book, State of Denial,  Paul Hughes, a senor staff officer at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, said that after reading these captured  instructions in late April 2003, he realized, “that the U.S. and coalition forces were up against a lot more than they had imagined.”  


For more info see DOCEXBLOG and MEMRI.  Here’s a link to DOCEXBLOG’s Captured “Operation Iraqi Freedom” document index.  Seems that the USG forgot about the Internet Archive  😉

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