Thursday, February 16, 2006

Iraqi Documents

Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard has been covering the story of Iraq's untranslated government documents for some time now, but today's piece is one of the most important to date:

FOR MORE than a year, THE WEEKLY STANDARD has sought the release of documents captured in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have pressured Pentagon officials, cajoled intelligence analysts, listened to would-be whistleblowers, interviewed Iraqis and filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests with multiple government agencies. Today, because of two developments that have nothing to do with these efforts, we will all learn more about the captured documents and what they tell us about our enemies in the global war on terror....

Tonight on ABC News, first on World News Tonight and later on Nightline, we will hear excerpts from 12 hours of audio recordings reportedly made of meetings Saddam Hussein had with his senior advisers over the course of a decade. The full tapes, or transcripts of them, will be made available Saturday. The recordings are said to contain numerous references to weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's thwarting of U.N. weapons inspectors. Already, some are touting the tapes as a "smoking gun" that will prove Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Others are dismissing the tapes as old news and insignificant. All of this before anyone other than a handful of people know what is on the tapes and before one second of any of the tapes has been played in public.

The information in these documents and on these tapes will have a lot of impact upon how we look back at the war in Iraq. The truth about WMDs, terrorist conncections, and the like may or may not surface, but it is certainly a very real possibility.

Whether or not any "smoking guns" emerge, we do know that Saddam had previously possessed and used WMDs, and there was a high potential that he still had them. Saddam was also involved with al Qaeda and other terrorists, regardless of the degree to which he was involved. And lastly, Saddam was a brutal dictator who oppressed his people.

These things were certainly enough to legitimize an invasion of Iraq in 2003, and they still justify the war, especially given all of the war's results: a democratic and free Iraq, a people freed from the rule of an oppressive dictator, an apporved constitution, and successful elections among other things. Even so, the documents may offer an even further justification.