In his article Post-Haste Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard discusses the release of a few documents (very few) captured in Iraq. I am pleased to see some reward for his efforts to convince the government to release the captured Iraqi documents. But now I have to throw water on the blog fire.
Earlier this week, I discussed the plan by the Director of Intelligence, John Negroponte to release thousands of NIV items first. You may or may not know that I worked with ISG processing and analyzing these documents and other media. As I discussed in the previous article, NIV is the trash. There is nothing of intelligence value in these items or they would be IV.
One of the reasons for the resistance to the release of these documents is the risk that people would not be able to apply context to these documents and would make incorrect assertions. The limited release of nine document has proven that concern to be valid.
Three documents have already fooled some of the leading bloggers (I don’t want to name names, but you know who you are, pretty much all of you).
ABC News released very helpful translations that I will use.
The first document contains a summary of information derived from an Afghanistan (presumably Taliban) official:
"Osama bin Laden and the Taliban"
Document dated Sept. 15, 2001
An Iraqi intelligence service document saying that their Afghani informant, who's only identified by a number, told them that the Afghani Consul Ahmed Dahastani claimed the following in front of him:
That OBL and the Taliban are in contact with Iraq and that a group of Taliban and bin Laden group members visited Iraq.
That the U.S. has proof the Iraqi government and "bin Laden's group" agreed to cooperate to attack targets inside America.
That in case the Taliban and bin Laden's group turn out to be involved in "these destructive operations," the U.S. may strike Iraq and Afghanistan.
That the Afghani consul heard about the issue of Iraq's relationship with "bin Laden's group" while he was in Iran.
As noted by the ABC editor, this is not substantial evidence. This is a guy reporting what he heard from another guy reporting what he heard. It is hearsay within hearsay. Although I do not rule it out as being accurate, I find this to be a very unreliable source. I am very eager to prove the link. But this isn’t it (see the catagory Saddam and al-Qaeda for real evidence of the link).
Another document details the structure of the Iraq Intelligence Service. But if you pay attention you can see the link to the FAS.org website that the bulk of the document content was downloaded from. This document is most likely an Iraqi counterintelligence review of open source items to find out what is public about the IIS. There is nothing new in this document although it fooled a pundit at a major blog site.
The other document causing a stir is described on the FMSO website:
Synopsis: 2002 Iraqi Intelligence Correspondence concerning the presence of al-Qaida Members in Iraq. Correspondence between IRS members on a suspicion, later confirmed, of the presence of an Al-Qaeda terrorist group. Moreover, it includes photos and names.
This document is causing a sensation because it has photos of al-Zarqawi. I don’t have a translation at the time of this writing, but it looks very much like a dossier. The subject of the writing could be that he has been detected in Iraq and needs to be dealt with, or it could an introduction for further collaboration. My gut tells me it is surveillance and identification, not evidence of collusion.
Why do I think that? Because as I said, NIV has just that, no intelligence value.
So far, this is as I predicted, all junk. I am still waiting to see the translation on the al-Zarqawi dossier, but everything else in these documents is hearsay or already well known. The only evidence I see so far is in support of my belief that Director Negroponte is stalling for time by releasing junk.
Update: thanks to the American Thinker for the interest in the article
Update: For those who have not read my work let me make clear that I am convinced based on the evidence I have seen that Saddam had limited WMD capability shortly before the war. I also am convinced he did use terrorist organizations such as the Egyption Islamic Jihad (which makes up a large chunk of al-Qaeda) outside of Iraq, but that he would not tolerate them in Iraq unless controlled tightly in training camps or "field offices". This piece is just a word of caution about the difference between hard evidence and hearsay.