ABC News to Air Captured Saddam Tapes

Posted: February 16, 2006 in Media

We are finally beginning to see the fruits of the efforts to translate the millions of pages of documents, and hours and hours of tape recordings captured from the Saddam regime after the war. This has obviously been a long process, as reliable translaters were very hard to find. ABC News  says it will be releasing 12 hours of these tapes this weekend.

No one really knows what will be revealed when all the tapes are translated, and they must be viewed carefully. Stephen Hayes, the author of the book  “The Connection: How al Qaueda’s Collaboration with Sadam Hussein Has Endangered America“, and editor of the Weekly Standard puts this into context

So let’s take a step back and put this in context. Estimates from people involved in the document exploitation project tell us the U.S. government has in its possession some 2 million “exploitable items.” Of that number, less than 3 percent–somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 items–have been fully exploited. The information that will be made public by the end of this week–28 captured al Qaeda documents and 12 hours of audiotape from Iraq–will provide a glimpse of a fraction of a fraction of the total collection.

A hypothetical: If the tapes are in fact authentic, imagine that they include audio of Saddam Hussein talking about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Does this mean that Iraq actually had these weapons Saddam thought he had? Not necessarily. One of the leading theories about Iraqi WMD holds that Iraqi scientists misled Saddam about his WMD capability. These scientists, according to this theory, lied to their superiors for fear of reprisals if their lack of progress on WMD development was discovered. That Saddam believed he had these proscribed weapons is not proof that he did.

Similarly, on the al Qaeda documents: The scholars from West Point examine the relationship in the 1980s between the jihadists from the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and the former Iraqi regime. Saddam supported and trained some of these jihadists in his effort to destabilize the Syrian regime. On the one hand, this data suggests that whatever their religious and ideological differences, the jihadists and the allegedly secular Iraqi regime were not opposed to cooperating against a common enemy. This view is supported by an al Qaeda document that reports, among other things, that Osama bin Laden’s chief deputy Ayman al Zawahiri sought assistance from both the Iraqi regime and Iran. On the other hand, another al Qaeda document sets forth “lessons learned” from the experience of the past jihadist-Iraq collaboration and concludes that such relationships can be counterproductive and are to be avoided in the future. It’s all very interesting and it will be helpful to learn more.

What these documents demonstrate more than anything else is that the U.S. intelligence community and the Bush administration should make document exploitation a high priority.

  1. Dedra Harries says:

    abc news is great, i always watch it on TV because the news are always updated.;

    Stop by our web portal as well

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