Like others, I was relieved when I heard of plans to release archived documents seized from Saddam Hussein.
(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.
But I don't know nearly as much about the subject as Ray Robison, who has written several articles for AT, and who worked for the Iraq Survey Group in the media section in Qatar.
On his site Ray Robison, he writes:
I am not sure what the Director is referring to here. If he is talking about the raw NIV documents, then what we are looking at is a process of going through a warehouse full of thousands of boxes looking for the ones marked NIV, months. Taking them to port and shipping them to the states or flying them here in military transports, weeks to months. Then they have to be received in the U.S. and warehoused again while a process is put in place to distribute them out to the organizations identified for the review process, months. My best guess, if this is the process, it will be well into 2007 before the analysis starts.
What I hope Negroponte has in mind is to release the digital copies of this material. Portions of it were scanned and archived into the Harmony database. If the Harmony database in Qatar has been connected to the stateside portion, then it is no problem. It will still take months to download to CD and DVD media or external hard drives and ship to the analysts or months even if they are sent over network, but much better than the physical transport method. If the database is not connected, then they will wait until it is connected, or the documents will have to be downloaded to another media and shipped from Qatar. In that case, we are still looking at 2007.
And what are we waiting for?
There's a lot more detail. It looks as though we are in for a disappointment.
Thomas Lifson 3 15 06