Friday, December 23, 2005

Cong Hoekstra's editorial to Director Negroponte on captured Iraqi archives

Hoekstra's editorial in today's Washington Times asking Negroponte to declassify 35,000 boxes of captured documents.

He's right. And it's a great example of how the net should be used.
Much of the blame for the slow translation can be attributed to the fact that the United States has few trained Arabic translators in its intelligence community. Of the ones we do have, their focus and priority, as it should be, is on translating current information to assess potential threats and to provide support for our troops in the field.

The other significant problem, and one that is entirely of our government's own making, is that current intelligence community requirements allow only people with top security clearances to handle the documents.

Given the limited availability of translators, and legitimate questions as to whether the U.S. government could ever employ enoug translators to review the documents, the most prudent course is to eliminate the classification requirements surrounding the documents. They could then be published, so academics, journalists, bloggers and other interested individuals could have access and help translate them.

An undoubtedly enterprising spirit resides in the American people, and others around the world, that we can harness to assist in translating the documents. Regardless of one's political perspective, there are many on all sides who would like to know more about the happenings and thinking in prewar Iraq.

I, along with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, recently proposed that the federal government take a bold and unprecedented step to immediately turn this archive into a valuable source of information on Iraq. Specifically, we called on Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte to declassify the millions of pages of documents and make them available to the public.

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