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Who'll Let the Docs Out
The Weekly Standard ^ | March 10, 2006 | Stephen F. Hayes

Posted on 03/10/2006 4:18:56 PM PST by Mike10542

On February 16, President George W. Bush assembled a small group of congressional Republicans for a briefing on Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley were there, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad participated via teleconference from Baghdad. As the meeting was beginning, Mike Pence spoke up. The Indiana Republican, a leader of conservatives in the House, was seated next to Bush.

"Yesterday, Mr. President, the war had its best night on the network news since the war ended," Pence said.

"Is this the tapes thing?" Bush asked, referring to two ABC News reports that included excerpts of recordings Saddam Hussein made of meetings with his war cabinet in the years before the U.S. invasion. Bush had not seen the newscasts but had been briefed on them.

Pence framed his response as a question, quoting Abraham Lincoln: "One of your Republican predecessors said, 'Give the people the facts and the Republic will be saved.' There are 3,000 hours of Saddam tapes and millions of pages of other documents that we captured after the war. When will the American public get to see this information?"

Bush replied that he wanted the documents released. He turned to Hadley and asked for an update. Hadley explained that John Negroponte, Bush's Director of National Intelligence, "owns the documents" and that DNI lawyers were deciding how they might be handled.

Bush extended his arms in exasperation and worried aloud that people who see the documents in 10 years will wonder why they weren't released sooner. "If

I knew then what I know now," Bush said in the voice of a war skeptic, "I would have been more supportive of the war."

Bush told Hadley to expedite the release of the Iraq documents. "This stuff ought to be out. Put this stuff out." The president would reiterate this point before the meeting adjourned. And as the briefing ended, he approached Pence, poked a finger in the congressman's chest, and thanked him for raising the issue. When Pence began to restate his view that the documents should be released, Bush put his hand up, as if to say, "I hear you. It will be taken care of."

It was not the first time Bush has made clear his desire to see the Iraq documents released. On November 30, 2005, he gave a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy. Four members of Congress attended: Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee; Sen. John Warner, the Virginia Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee; Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona; and Pence. After his speech, Bush visited with the lawmakers for 10 minutes in a holding room to the side of the stage. Hoekstra asked Bush about the documents and the president said he was pressing to have them released.

Says Pence: "I left both meetings with the unambiguous impression that the president of the United States wants these documents to reach the American people."

Negroponte never got the message. Or he is choosing to ignore it. He has done nothing to expedite the exploitation of the documents. And he continues to block the growing congressional effort, led by Hoekstra, to have the documents released.

For months, Negroponte has argued privately that while the documents may be of historical interest, they are not particularly valuable as intelligence product. A statement by his office in response to the recordings aired by ABC said, "Analysts from the CIA and the DIA reviewed the translations and found that, while fascinating from a historical perspective, the tapes do not reveal anything that changes their postwar analysis of Iraq's weapons programs."

Left unanswered was what the analysts made of the Iraqi official who reported to Saddam that components of the regime's nuclear program had been "transported out of Iraq." Who gave this report to Saddam and when did he give it? How were the materials "transported out of Iraq"? Where did they go? Where are they now? And what, if anything, does this tell us about Saddam's nuclear program? It may be that the intelligence community has answers to these questions. If so, they have not shared them. If not, the tapes are far more than "fascinating from a historical perspective."

Officials involved with DOCEX--as the U.S. government's document exploitation project is known to insiders--tell The Weekly Standard that only some 3 percent of the 2 million captured documents have been fully translated and analyzed. No one familiar with the project argues that exploiting these documents has been a priority of the U.S. intelligence community.

Negroponte's argument rests on the assumption that the history captured in these documents would not be important to those officials--elected and unelected, executive branch and legislative--whose job it is to craft U.S. foreign and national security policy. He's mistaken.

An example: On April 13, 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle published an exhaustive article based on documents reporter Robert Collier unearthed in an Iraqi Intelligence safehouse in Baghdad. The claims were stunning.

The documents found Thursday and Friday in a Baghdad office of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi secret police, indicate that at least five agents graduated Sept. 15 from a two--week course in surveillance and eavesdropping techniques, according to certificates issued to the Iraqi agents by the "Special Training Center" in Moscow . . .

Details about the Mukhabarat's Russian spy training emerged from some Iraqi agents' personnel folders, hidden in a back closet in a center for electronic surveillance located in a four-story mansion in the Mesbah district, Baghdad's wealthiest neighborhood. . . .

Three of the five Iraqi agents graduated late last year from a two-week course in "Phototechnical and Optical Means," given by the Special Training Center in Moscow, while two graduated from the center's two-week course in "Acoustic Surveillance Means."

One of the graduating officers, identified in his personnel file as Sami Rakhi Mohammad Jasim al-Mansouri, 46, is described as being connected to "the general management of counterintelligence" in the south of the country. . . .

His certificate, which bears the double-eagle symbol of the Russian Federation and a stylized star symbol that resembles the seal of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, uses a shortened version of al-Mansouri's name.

It says he entered the Moscow-based Special Training Center's "advanced" course in "acoustic surveillance means" on Sept. 2, 2002, and graduated on Sept. 15.

Four days later, the Chronicle reported that the "Moscow-based Special Training Center," was the Russian foreign intelligence service, known as SVR, and the SVR confirmed the training:

A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Boris Labusov, acknowledged that Iraqi secret police agents had been trained by his agency but said the training was for nonmilitary purposes, such as fighting crime and terrorism.

Yet documents discovered in Baghdad by The Chronicle last week suggest that the spying techniques the Iraqi agents learned in Russia may have been used against foreign diplomats and civilians, raising doubt about the accuracy of Labusov's characterization.

Labusov, the press officer for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, confirmed that the certificates discovered by The Chronicle were genuine and that the Iraqis had received the training the documents described.

The Russians declared early in the U.N. process that they preferred inspections to war. Perhaps we now know why. Still, it is notable that at precisely the same time Russian intelligence was training Iraqi operatives, senior Russian government officials were touting their alliance with the United States. Russian foreign minister Boris Malakhov proclaimed that the two countries were "partners in the anti-terror coalition" and Putin spokesman Sergei Prikhodko declared, "Russia and the United States have a common goal regarding the Iraqi issue." (Of course, these men may have been in the dark on what their intelligence service was up to.) On November 8, 2002, six weeks after the Iraqis completed their Russian training, Russia voted in favor of U.N. Resolution 1441, which threatened "serious consequences" for continued Iraqi defiance on its weapons programs.

Maybe this is mere history to Negroponte. But it has practical implications for policymakers assessing Russia's role as go-between in the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Perhaps anticipating the weakness of his "mere history" argument, Negroponte abruptly shifted his position last week. He still opposes releasing the documents, only now he claims that the information in these documents is so valuable that it cannot be made public. Negroponte gave a statement to Fox News responding to Hoekstra's call to release the captured documents. "These documents have provided, and continue to provide, actionable intelligence to ongoing operations. . . . It would be ill-advised to release these materials without careful screening because the material includes sensitive and potentially harmful information."

This new position raises two obvious questions: If the documents have provided actionable intelligence, why has the intelligence community exploited so few of them? And why hasn't Negroponte demanded more money and manpower for the DOCEX program?

Sadly, these obvious questions have an obvious answer. The intelligence community is not interested in releasing documents captured in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq. Why this is we can't be sure. But Pete Hoekstra offers one distinct possibility.

"They are State Department people who want to make no waves and don't want to do anything that would upset anyone," he says.

This is not idle speculation. In meetings with Hoekstra, Negroponte and his staff have repeatedly expressed concern that releasing this information might embarrass our allies. Who does Negroponte have in mind?

Allies like Russia?

Hoekstra says Negroponte's intransigence is forcing him to get the documents out "the hard way." The House Intelligence chairman has introduced a bill (H.R. 4869) that would require the DNI to begin releasing the captured documents. Although Negroponte continues to argue against releasing the documents in internal discussions, on March 9, he approached Hoekstra with a counterproposal. Negroponte offered to release some documents labeled "No Intelligence Value," and indicated his willingness to review other documents for potential release, subject to a scrub for sensitive material.

And there, of course, is the potential problem. Negroponte could have been releasing this information all along, but chose not to. So, in a way, nothing really changes. Still, for Hoekstra, this is the first sign of any willingness to release the documents.

"I'm encouraged that John is taking another look at it," Hoekstra said last Thursday. "But I want a system that is biased in favor of declassification. I want some assurance that they aren't just picking the stuff that's garbage and releasing that. If we're only declassifying maps of Baghdad, I'm not going to be happy."

He continued: "There may be many documents that relate to Iraqi WMD programs. Those should be released. Same thing with documents that show links to terrorism. They have to release documents on topics of interest to the American people and they have to give me some kind of schedule. What's the time frame? I don't have any idea."

Hoekstra is not going away. "We're going to ride herd on this. This is a step in the right direction, but I am in no way claiming victory. I want these documents out."

So does President Bush. You'd think that would settle it.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:
All along, no matter what any person says, I still believe that Saddam had WMD's and that he was connected to terrorism. Maybe not directly al-Qaeda, but Islamic terrorists nonetheless.

I am also convinced that Russia had a huge hand in shipping the WMD's out of the country to Syria before the war and that the Bush administration has evidence to this nature. However, they are for some reasoning covering up all the intelligence, even though it is killing his presidency. Why? I have no idea. Is it to protect Russia? If so, why? These are all questions I wish Bush and his administration would answer for their and our country's own good.

1 posted on 03/10/2006 4:18:58 PM PST by Mike10542
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To: Mike10542

bttt


2 posted on 03/10/2006 4:22:43 PM PST by Christian4Bush (I'd much rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy.)
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To: Mike10542
Does it matter which branch of Islamo-facism were his favorites.

I agree with the WMDs, only I think they were either moved or dumped in the desert before the war. The bunkers with the WMD serums are a dead giveaway the Iraqi army thought he had them as well.
3 posted on 03/10/2006 4:27:24 PM PST by Tarpon
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To: Mike10542

Ditto Mike!


4 posted on 03/10/2006 4:37:40 PM PST by Budge (<>< Sit Nomen Domini benedictum. <><)
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To: Mike10542

Bump!
Great article, thanks for posting it.


5 posted on 03/10/2006 4:39:12 PM PST by KJC1 (Bush is fighting the War on Terror, Dems are fighting the War on Bush)
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To: Mike10542

I see crow on the future menus for many moonbats.


6 posted on 03/10/2006 4:43:05 PM PST by Names Ash Housewares
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To: Mike10542

"Bush administration has evidence to this nature. However, they are for some reasoning covering up all the intelligence, even though it is killing his presidency..."

What did I miss in that article? I thought it clearly states that Bush wants the tapes and evidence released? Where are you getting your statement from?


7 posted on 03/10/2006 4:47:40 PM PST by Integrityrocks
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To: Mike10542

bttt


8 posted on 03/10/2006 4:48:21 PM PST by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Mike10542
Does anyone think Russia gives a damn about us. If the tapes support that Russia helped move the WMD, then burn Russia. We should be getting tired of protecting a Country that screws us every chance they get. Where are the pictures taken by the satellite showing truckloads being moved to Syria. Why are they not released. We are being let down, and by our President. I can't understand why.
9 posted on 03/10/2006 4:48:53 PM PST by Logical me (Oh, well!!!)
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To: Logical me

What part of the "Bush wants them released" says our President is letting us down.


10 posted on 03/10/2006 4:51:50 PM PST by Integrityrocks
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To: Christian4Bush; All
Negroponte and his staff have repeatedly expressed concern that releasing this information might embarrass our allies.

I never understand arguments like this. If you do something stupid, but think you got away with it, the tendency is to repeat the same stupid mistake. On the other hand, getting your hand slapped once just might make you think twice about doing it again. It's time for our "allies" to think twice about what they are doing and it time for W to slap Negroponte's hand and tell him to hand the stuff over or start looking for another job...seems to me the boss should have the final word.
11 posted on 03/10/2006 4:58:41 PM PST by econjack
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To: Mike10542
How about some info on the Iraqi development of Anthrax. Why has that info been blacked-out?
12 posted on 03/10/2006 5:13:47 PM PST by Nova
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To: Integrityrocks
What part do you not understand. Where was he when he was needed? Stop excuses, he has to pay more attention to matters that are as important as this was. Instead where did he go and where was he. After the fact does not get it. Now we have to bust our butts trying to fight the battle back.
13 posted on 03/10/2006 5:26:01 PM PST by Logical me (Oh, well!!!)
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To: Integrityrocks

Also the tapes will be just that. Jack sh@@. They should have been released when they were found. If they support the WMD theory, they look at all the time we have fought and suffered trying to support the theory when these tapes might have helped. How much longer do we have to suffer?


14 posted on 03/10/2006 5:30:31 PM PST by Logical me (Oh, well!!!)
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To: Integrityrocks
One very good reason for the delay in the documents release is in the very structure of the State Dept. Career malingerers who have no loyalty to the administration or even the country. Holding the documents enforces their power base as well as possibly containing embarrassing information on where their true loyalties are.

Someday, for the good of the country, a complete housecleaning should be done at State, Defense and just about every other government employee playground. (watch most of the leaks disappear)
15 posted on 03/10/2006 6:44:05 PM PST by Free_SJersey (South Jersey-the secret state)
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To: Mike10542
Bush's Director of National Intelligence, "owns the documents" and that DNI lawyers were deciding how they might be handled.

What the heck do lawyers have to do with this? Do they think Saddam might sue them for invasion of privacy?

Maybe they think there is stuff in there they don't want to know, like Russia's involvement.

While we are at it, where is the Barrett Report?

16 posted on 03/10/2006 10:08:08 PM PST by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done, needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Mike10542

I'd like to suggest that freepers get back to activism. What we do best rather than arguing among ourselves.

We should write hard letters, or at least call, people who can take action on this matter. Those people would be, at a minimum, Senator McCain, Condi Rice, Karl Rove, President Bush, Senator Warner, Senator Cornyn, Senator Allen and I'm sure some others.

In those letters or phone calls, we should reference the article by name, author and title with a quick synopsis of what the article details, and then ask if Negroponte is ignoring a direct order from the President of the United States of America.

I am drafting my letter today and compiling my list.

Kristinn: Is there any way you can either copy this article and hand it out to people on the Hill, or get it to someone who will take action?


17 posted on 03/11/2006 5:36:28 AM PST by Peach
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To: Peach
I'd like to suggest that freepers get back to activism. What we do best rather than arguing among ourselves.

Great suggestion!

18 posted on 03/11/2006 6:01:53 AM PST by Freedom is eternally right
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To: JaneAustin

I have freepmailed a few freepers who I know are great activists as well as Tony Snow.

This is my project this week.

Any suggestions from you or other freepers gratefully suggested.


19 posted on 03/11/2006 6:04:26 AM PST by Peach
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To: Peach

Thanks for providing the link to this thread!


20 posted on 03/11/2006 7:22:42 AM PST by syriacus (The stench of hypocrisy -- Beijing's smugglers can run our terminals, but Dubai can't get a hearing)
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To: econjack
It's time for our "allies" to think twice about what they are doing and it time for W to slap Negroponte's hand and tell him to hand the stuff over or start looking for another job...seems to me the boss should have the final word.

Negroponte is one of the all-time stand-up good guys. He's worked for Nixon, Reagan and the Bush. The left wing hates Negroponte. Why should we think that Negroponte's following assessment is wrong?


21 posted on 03/11/2006 9:26:32 AM PST by FreeReign
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To: Mike10542

Lots of quotes in this article. Most likely Pence is the source. Yet the punch line of the entire article, the Bush reply that he supposedly wants the documents released, is not quoted.

22 posted on 03/11/2006 9:32:16 AM PST by FreeReign
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To: FreeReign
Yet the punch line of the entire article, the Bush reply that he supposedly wants the documents released, is not quoted.

Correction, later on in the article the Bush reply was quoted.

23 posted on 03/11/2006 10:00:37 AM PST by FreeReign
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To: FreeReign
Lots of quotes in this article. Most likely Pence is the source. Yet the punch line of the entire article, the Bush reply that he supposedly wants the documents released, is not quoted.

Bush told Hadley to expedite the release of the Iraq documents. "This stuff ought to be out. Put this stuff out." The president would reiterate this point before the meeting adjourned.

See the quote marks?

24 posted on 03/11/2006 11:09:20 AM PST by El Gato
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To: FreeReign

I don't know much about the guy, but when your boss asks for the material, I think his request should be honored...all the moreso when he's the President. Also, he could release some of the more "benign" material to get his critics off his back.


25 posted on 03/11/2006 1:37:05 PM PST by econjack
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To: Peach

Need to write our congress critters


26 posted on 03/11/2006 1:50:56 PM PST by bnelson44 (Proud parent of a tanker! (Charlie Mike, son))
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To: econjack
I don't know much about the guy, but when your boss asks for the material, I think his request should be honored...all the moreso when he's the President. Also, he could release some of the more "benign" material to get his critics off his back.

I'm guessing that the President asked Negroponte about the documents and that Negroponte advised the president not to release the documents at this time. I'm also guessing that the President took Negroponte's advice.

There is no evidence whatsoever that John Negroponte is holding these documents against the President's wishes.

27 posted on 03/11/2006 1:53:53 PM PST by FreeReign
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To: Mike10542; Peach; Howlin
Shortly after the start of the war I remember a Russian envoy on the road to Syria who's car (convoy) was blown up by our guys. There was a huge fuss at first and then it immediately went away. Anyone else remember that?

That Negroponte is putting up roadblocks worries me. He's not the usual State Dept type. He needs to be a little smarter about this though, release what is necessary to prove that there were, in fact, WMDs and other connections to terror before he ends up destroying this country while attempting to protect it.

28 posted on 03/11/2006 3:59:46 PM PST by McGavin999 (I suggest the UAE form a Joint Venture Partnership with Halliburton & Wal-Mart)
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To: McGavin999

I don't remember the incident you are asking about with the Russian envoy on the road to Syria.

I'm pretty surprised at how tone deaf politically Negroponte is about the tapes and the value of Americans hearing them.

It's vital, imo. Absolutely vital to the success of the war on terror.


29 posted on 03/11/2006 4:49:28 PM PST by Peach
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To: Peach
I remember it distinctly. The Russians claimed it was the ambassador to Iraq, but nobody bought that. The car was completely taken out, it was one of several that were traveling together almost to the Syrian border. I remember thinking at the time that the reason it was so quickly hushed up was because there was a possibility of them being rogue elements within the Russian government.

Everytime I think about the WMDs, I remember that convoy. They weren't trucks, just cars, but for some reason that always sticks in my mind.

30 posted on 03/11/2006 5:12:19 PM PST by McGavin999 (I suggest the UAE form a Joint Venture Partnership with Halliburton & Wal-Mart)
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To: McGavin999

Well, you have a good memory. I hadn't remembered that at all. I do remember Colin Powell showing satellite video to the UN; convoy of trucks leaving known WMD sites for the Syrian border.

I know the president doesn't like to micromanage, but don't they realize in DC the importance of reminding people about this stuff?


31 posted on 03/11/2006 5:23:55 PM PST by Peach
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To: Peach

I remember the things that are important, and that seemed very important at the time. It was around the time the troops were going through that storage facility where all the yellowcake was stored. The Iraqis were taking out the 55 gal drum and using them for hauling water after dumping the yellowcake out on the ground. I'm trying to pin down the exact timing of it, but it was during the invasion.


32 posted on 03/11/2006 5:29:54 PM PST by McGavin999 (I suggest the UAE form a Joint Venture Partnership with Halliburton & Wal-Mart)
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To: McGavin999

I wish I could help with more information on that; my stepson was stationed in Jordan in early and mid 2003 during the invasion and we were more focused on getting info to him via e-mail. They thwarted two major terrorist attacks on their camps. One was someone trying to poison their water and the other was a truck bomb.


33 posted on 03/11/2006 5:32:37 PM PST by Peach
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To: Peach

Victory....Bush has apparently told Negroponte to get off his ass.

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Monday said it was preparing to release prewar Iraqi government material from a trove of documents and tape-recordings captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The office of U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte decided in recent days to fund a review and release process for an estimated 48,000 boxes of documents and hundreds of recorded conversations, including many involving Saddam Hussein himself, officials said.

The material, removed from Iraq to Qatar, has already been reviewed by the CIA's Iraq Survey Group and continues to be scrutinized for intelligence by the U.S. military, officials said.

But officials said Negroponte's Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, is expected to move quickly to release as much of the material as possible.

"The ODNI is committed to expediting the review and release of the materials," a Negroponte spokeswoman said.

The news was greeted with enthusiasm by U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who has strongly urged the administration to release the material.

He suggested some of the information could shed light on prewar U.S. intelligence reports that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The WMD allegation provided President George W. Bush with a central justification for the war in Iraq. But no such weapons have been found, and the Iraq Survey Group discovered no new evidence of WMD in its review of the prewar material.

"With so many questions about prewar Iraq unanswered, I'm glad to see there is finally the sense of urgency to get this done," Hoekstra said in a statement."


34 posted on 03/13/2006 10:41:13 PM PST by rwfromkansas (http://xanga.com/rwfromkansas)
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