By Stephen F. Hayes, The Weekly Standard
I've certainly been doing my fair share of whining about politicos of late. And one of my pet peeves is this lack of a quest to learn the truth of the WMDs. I, for one, am so tired of hearing the repetitious phrasing that "Bush lied" and "there were no WMDs." I think that is an unfinished story.
We've seen the release of George Sada's book, Saddam's Secrets, which has been virtually ignored by all MSM, David Gaubatz's discovery of underground bunkers in Iraq following the US coalition entry in 2003, and the latest - the 3000 hours of tapes retrieved years ago, and yet to be fully translated, all emerge of late. Yet MSM and too many in Congress are just dodging the issue.
What had me totally confused was why the WH appeared to be ignoring this as well.
Come to learn that Bush, Hoekstra and sundry others have been working to get this data released to the public, but that effort is being slowed down by John Negroponte - Bush's Director of National Intelligence.
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.
"Owns" the documents?? Odd choice of language.
This is not Bush's first attempt at getting these docs out to the public. Last Nov, at a meeting with four committee members of Congress in attendance to his speech at the US Naval Academy, the President made clear his efforts to pressure for release of the documents.
However Negroponte not only is ignoring the Presidential efforts, but appears to be thwarting efforts, led by Peter Hoekstra, to release them.
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."
Interesting... First of all, this is a statement on only on 12 hours of translations... or only about 3% of the confiscated tapes and two million documents now in possession. A mere drop in the bucket of data possessed. And if the few hours of tapes and docs they have translated reveal nothing, then why fight their public release with such conviction?
Negroponte's further explanations state that knowledge gained from these docs are not important, and would not affect policy making decisions. However his mere "historical interest" argument has been challenged when it was found that Russian Foreign Intelligence Service had trained Saddam henchmen in "acoustic surveillance", and others in "phototechnical and optical means" as late as Sept 2002. The completion of training has been confirmed with the Russian government.
Such training was meant for fighting crime and terrorism in Iraq - interesting since Iraq was under control of the country's most powerful terrorist. But subsequent documents found in Baghdad showed that the training was used against foreign diplomats and civilians instead.
This revelationmay also give yet another explanation for Russia's preference for Iraq inspections instead of the "serious consequences" it voted for in the upteenth UN Resolution, 1441.
Upon discovery of such information, Negroponte started furiously backpedalling.
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."
Hey... I'm all for keeping ongoing intel under wraps. But the existance of WMDs and terrorist ties is truly crucial to the WOT going on now. This is a nation providing half-hearted support at best since the media and Congress has pounded into us that such WMDs never existed, the war is "illegal" and Saddam didn't have a thing to do with AQ or terrorists in general... save his own, employed henchmen.
Obviously Negroponte's reluctance to share the data stems from potential embarrassment of perceived allies. But which ones?
Hoekstra's persistence has lead to a breaking down of Negroponte. Forcing him to reveal the documents by introducing legislation, HR 4869, Negroponte came back with a personal counter... He offered to "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."
To his credit, Hoekstra - and evidently with the full support of Bush - doesn't plan to let up on his relentless campaign for data on WMDs and Saddam's links to terrorism. And while Negroponte may be forced into playing ball against his will, a confirmation of truth about WMDs and Saddam's terrorism ties, after years of the world being told they didn't exist, could bind America and the int'l community who is not "on the take" together once more in a united goal of defeating a stateless enemy.