Skip to content

National Security Archive Publishes New Digital Document Collection: Targeting Iraq, Part II: War and Occupation, 2004-2011

May 24, 2023

The National Security Archive, working with our partners at ProQuest, is publishing a new compilation of documents on U.S. policy toward Iraq. The 2,179 -document collection, Targeting Iraq, Part II: War and Occupation, 2004-2011, is relevant for researchers studying a range of issues, including:

  • The history of Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion;
  • The creation of a new Iraqi governing system and Iraqi elections;
  • Intelligence and national security;
  • U.S. policy towards the Middle East;
  • Al-Qaeda in Iraq; and 
  • U.S. counterterrorism policy. 

The collection totals 77,706 pages and begins with the closure of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which was established by the United States following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and ends with the withdrawal of all American combat troops in 2011 under the terms authorized by President George W. Bush. The documents spotlight a range of key issues across the intervening years, including efforts to restore a functioning economy and reestablish security in Iraq, American attempts to suppress violence motivated by U.S. presence in the country, U.S. influence in Iraq’s political and economic decision-making, oil legislation, and much more.

The documents, which were obtained by submitting hundreds of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) requests, also address military strategy, human rights issues and prisoner abuse, corruption, and contractor malfeasance and the conduct of private security firms – including Blackwater. Some of the specific events documented in the collection include the execution of Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity, the ramifications of U.S. torture of Abu Ghraib detainees, and American killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha, at al-Mahmudiyah, and Baghdad’s Nisour Square. 

The vast majority of the documents in the new set come from the U.S. Armed Forces, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Coalition forces, United States embassies, as well as the Department of Defense. Others originate from the White House, Congress, international organizations, and non-U.S. governments. 

Targeting Iraq, Part II expands on an earlier collection, Targeting Iraq, Part I: Planning, Invasion, and Occupation, 1997-2004, and complements and supplements information in both of the Digital National Security Archive’s collections on Donald Rumsfeld’s Snowflakes. The extensive set is constrained by similar issues as with the sets mentioned above: the U.S. government’s persistent and unwavering overclassification on foreign, military, and intelligence policy; the laboriously slow processing of FOIA requests combined with the increasing number of documents born classified; and the inability of many federal agencies to efficiently process and declassify electronic records. Also worthy of note are delays and complications in attempting to access documents containing White House equities or that are presidential records; these records face additional hurdles and delays, in no small part because presidential records do not become subject to the FOIA until five years after the end of an administration.

Online access to this Digital National Security Archive collection is available through a growing number of major libraries. Related records are available on the Archive’s website as “Electronic Briefing Books” that are regularly updated as additional material is declassified. Researchers should check the Archive’s website,, to find the latest information. They can also send a message via email to to learn about the most recent (or pending) publications, to identify nearby libraries with subscriptions to DNSA, and to learn if the Archive has additional materials in its collections on topics of interest.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: