UPDATE: As reported on the American Thinker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Monday said it was preparing to release prewar Iraqi government material from a trove of documents and tape-recordings captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The office of U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte decided in recent days to fund a review and release process for an estimated 48,000 boxes of documents and hundreds of recorded conversations, including many involving Saddam Hussein himself, officials said.
The material, removed from Iraq to Qatar, has already been reviewed by the CIA's Iraq Survey Group and continues to be scrutinized for intelligence by the U.S. military, officials said.
But officials said Negroponte's Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, is expected to move quickly to release as much of the material as possible.
"The ODNI is committed to expediting the review and release of the materials," a Negroponte spokeswoman said.
I also read another article today from Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard that covered this story and stated that Negroponte was planning to release the information classified as "NIV" which was called a good first step.
Negroponte began to soften his opposition. The two men spoke Wednesday morning, and the DNI told Hoekstra he was open to releasing some of the documents labeled "no intelligence value" as a way to begin the release process. Hoekstra took the offer as a good first step, but in a letter to Negroponte that same day insisted that documents relevant to the war be included in any release.
As you may or may not know, I worked with ISG in the media section in Qatar. I am not sure what the Director is referring to here. If he is talking about the raw NIV documents, then what we are looking at is a process of going through a warehouse full of thousands of boxes looking for the ones marked NIV, months. Taking them to port and shipping them to the states or flying them here in military transports, weeks to months. Then they have to be received in the U.S. and warehoused again while a process is put in place to distribute them out to the organizations identified for the review process, months. My best guess, if this is the process, it will be well into 2007 before the analysis starts.
What I hope Negroponte has in mind is to release the digital copies of this material. Portions of it were scanned and archived into the Harmony database. If the Harmony database in Qatar has been connected to the stateside portion, then it is no problem. It will still take months to download to CD and DVD media or external hard drives and ship to the analysts or months even if they are sent over network, but much better than the physical transport method. If the database is not connected, then they will wait until it is connected, or the documents will have to be downloaded to another media and shipped from Qatar. In that case, we are still looking at 2007.
And what are we waiting for?
What exactly is NIV? The processing of these documents involved a triage section that categorized documents by No Intelligence Value (NIV), Intelligence Value (IV), and other special categories. Quite simply, the NIV is the trash.
When these items were captured, there was limited ability to triage on site. Most of it was thrown into boxes after a quick look through, then sent to an ISG facility. Then the items were given harmony numbers before they were triaged in some cases.
Once an item has a harmony number, it is going to be scanned and archived, no matter what it is. It is just identified as NIV in the database. It could be a grocery list captured in an Iraq Intelligence Service office. If it had any intelligence value, it would be IV. In other words, Negroponte is trying to pacify the President of the United States and Congressman Hoekstra with trash. If the document or video or audio tape had one bit of value, it wouldn't be NIV.
Now there will be a few cases of misidentified documents getting released. And there is a very small possibility that something interesting will be released. But most of the stuff I worked with turned out to be movies and cartoons. And if it wasn't, it was IV.
So what we are looking at is a process that will take months or years, not weeks and cost thousands of dollars to release the trash so Mr. Negroponte can mollify interested parties like the President.
Folks, if this is the plan, to only release NIV, then forget it. Might as well save the money unless you need an extra copy of a 1970's movie.
What's worse is that Mr. Negroponte has to know this. He has to know that by releasing NIV documents first it will absorb money and resources for a year or more and he won't have to deal with reviewing IV documents for release any time soon. And he has to be aware that this is against the President's intent.
What does that tell about the mindset of our nation's intelligence community?
Outside the Beltway open blog
Update: thanks to The American Thinker for the interest.