The Corner

Harmony and Declassification

While Washington sinks its partisan teeth into the leaked National Intelligence Estimate, it is unfortunate that Congress, the academic community, and the press ignore so completely the government’s refusal to declassify millions of documents seized in Iraq and Afghanistan, the so-called HARMONY database. True, West Point has posted some on line, but these are a drop in the bucket. Everything in the HARMONY database is at least summarized, if not translated.  But even if documents are not translated why not release them?  Isn’t that why Congress funds so many Arabic language centers in academia?  The HARMONY documents are of historical, not intelligence value.  Saddam’s government is gone.  That so many in Congress and the blogosphere comment on US intelligence and the nature of Saddam’s regime—especially its relationship to terror—without reference to Saddam’s own documents is like writing a book review without reading the book.  I’ve never seen a case more blatant of the public’s right to know or of abuse of classification.  So what’s the hold-up?  Ask Langley.

Separately, the Iraq Memory Foundation, a bare bones operation seeking to catalogue and make accessible 3 million plus pages of Baath Party records, is fighting a funding cut-off from many of the same officials who claim to be indignant that more NIE’s aren’t released.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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